Gold IRAs cater to investors who want to diversify their wealth as they save for retirement. Precious metals like silver and gold, platinum and palladium are considered hedges against inflation and stock market volatility, gold IRAs allow you to hold these precious metals in an individual retirement account. The accounts offer the same tax benefits as IRAs invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.
Adding precious metals or other alternative assets to a portfolio can help reduce risk through diversification. But it’s important to keep in mind that financial advisors generally recommend allocating 5% or less of a portfolio to precious metals because gold does not pay dividends and, even with a long time horizon, gold investors have no guarantee of making money on their investment.
The top gold IRA companies offer unbiased educational resources, investor information and responsive customer support. When choosing a reputable gold IRA company, transparency and customer feedback are important tools for evaluating what kind of experience you are likely to have. Competitive pricing is another factor, as you want to avoid those with higher fees. Easy account setup is important, too.
We evaluated more than a dozen gold IRA companies and have highlighted the best options for investors with various needs and levels of financial sophistication. Read our gold IRA reviews and our gold IRA investing guide below to discover if one of these is the right choice to diversify your portfolio, and what you need to know before investing.
Our Top Picks for Best Gold IRA Companies of 2022
Augusta Precious Metals – Best Overall
Orion Metal Exchange – Best for Low Fees
Birch Gold Group – Best for Fee Transparency
Oxford Gold Group – Best for Beginners
Noble Gold Investments – Best for Diverse Storage Options
Advantage Gold – Best for Customer Popularity
Best Gold IRA Company Reviews
- Site has informative videos and educational content
- Supports investing diversity
- Potential for fee waivers of up to 10 years
- High minimum purchase order of $50,000
- Hard to find fee information online
Metals Available Gold, silverBBB GradeA+BCA GradeAAATrustPilot Review GradeNot ratedMinimum Purchase Order$50,000
Why We Chose It: Founded in 2012, Augusta Precious Metals gives investors a wealth of information about investing in precious metals. The company offers gold and silver investment options; it uses Delaware Depository — a popular choice among gold IRA providers — to hold customer assets such as gold coins and gold bars.
Augusta Precious Metals has a lot of customer education on its site. Ironically enough, one of the attributes that makes this company rise to the top of our picks is its video-blog series of reasons why not to own gold. Many gold IRA companies use scare tactics or play on investors’ fear of a (highly unlikely) meltdown of the entire financial system and a wholesale collapse of U.S. currency.
- Investors pay no fees for setup and transfer
- Lower minimum order threshold compared to competitors
- Storage fees waived for up to three years
- Options for choosing custodian and depository
- A+ BBB grade
- 4.9 TrustPilot rating
- Site lacks info about custodial fees
- Suggests investing up to 20% of assets in precious metals — far riskier than conventional investing advice
Metals AvailableGold, silver, platinum, palladiumBBB GradeA+BCA GradeNot a member of BCATrustPilot Review Grade4.9Minimum Purchase Order$5,000
Why We Chose It: Orion Metal Exchange says it does not charge fees for setting up an account, annual maintenance or transferring funds.
Customers can establish an account over the phone within 10 minutes. Orion says it works with all IRS-approved gold IRA custodial institutions. Online account information is available through the custodian chosen by the investor — most charge a $50 account set-up fee. Storage and insurance costs $170 a year for most gold IRAs.
The order minimum is $5,000 — some other gold IRA companies have minimums of $50,000. Orion also offers a fee-free buyback policy.
- Fee information is clear and easy to find online
- Customer can choose their custodian and depository facility
- Flat-rate fee structure benefits investors with large balances
- Asset transfers for account set-up can take up to a month
- Flat fee structure less cost-effective for small investors
Metals AvailableGold, silver, platinum, palladiumBBB GradeA+BCA GradeAAATrustPilot Review Grade4.8Minimum Purchase OrderRecommended $10,000 initial purchase
Why We Chose It: Most gold IRA companies have websites that lack basic information about fees and other costs. Birch Gold Group, in business since 2003, is one of the few gold IRA companies we came across that includes fees on its site. We found it had the most detail about both one-time and recurring annual fees.
Birch Gold Group charges a flat-rate annual fee rather than a percentage of the account value, which could benefit large investors but might be more expensive for those with lower balances.
The company lets customers choose between Equity Trust Company and STRATA Trust Company as the account custodian, and Delaware Depository or Brink’s Global Services for their precious metals storage.
- Site has resource library for investors
- Information geared towards educating novice investors
- Customers can access their account online
- AA BCA grade (top category is AAA)
Metals Available Gold, silver, platinum, palladiumBBB GradeA+BCA GradeAATrustPilot Review Grade4.9Minimum Purchase OrderNot provided
Why We Chose It: Oxford Gold Group offers comprehensive customer education resources and tools. Its website says customers can set up their account quickly, often within 24 hours. The company works with Delaware Depository and Brinks, and charges an annual fee of $180, according to the website.
Oxford Gold Group has considerable resources available for new precious metals investors, including an encyclopedia of common terms like “spot price.”
- Fee information easy to find online
- Unique Texas-based depository option
- BB grade on BCA
Metals AvailableGold, silver, platinum, palladiumBBB GradeABCA GradeBBTrustPilot Review GradeNot ratedMinimum Purchase OrderNot provided
Why We Chose It: Noble Gold Investments, founded in 2016, includes an accessible blog along with a comprehensive catalog of coins and bars investors can buy.
Real-time account information is available through the gold IRA custodian. Customers pay two annual fees: An $80 account fee and a $150 fee for insurance and segregated storage, in which customers’ holdings are stored individually rather than pooled together.
In addition to Delaware Depository and Brinks, two well-known precious metals depositories, Noble Gold also has its own depository in the state of Texas, giving customers an additional choice for storing their precious metals.
- Approximately 1,200 reviews on TrustPilot
- High BBB and BCA scores
- Multiple options for custodian and depository
- No account fee information online
- Educational materials are outdated
Metals AvailableGold, silver, platinum, palladiumBBB GradeA+BCA GradeAAATrustPilot Review Grade4.9Minimum Purchase OrderNot provided
Why We Chose It: Advantage Gold, founded in 2014, has top-notch reviews, including nearly 1,200 reviews on TrustPilot alone. Nearly all — 98% of them — are five-star.
The company sells gold, silver, platinum and palladium. It uses STRATA Trust Company and Equity Trust Company as gold IRA account custodians, and Brinks Depository and Delaware Depository vaults.
Other Gold IRA Companies We Considered
American Hartford Gold
American Hartford Gold is not on our main list because it has a larger spread between how much it pays to buy metal and how much it charges customers for that same metal than some other companies we examined.
- Site says no liquidation fees
Red Rock Secured
Red Rock Secured is not on our main list because its website doesn’t have enough information about costs and fees to make a comprehensive evaluation.
- Offers gold, silver, platinum and palladium
Goldco is not on our main list because its time estimate to complete a rollover is up to two weeks, a longer period than some other companies take. There is a dearth of information about costs and fees on its website.
- Offers new clients no fees for first year
Lexi Capital is not on our main list because its site says the company does not keep “regular” phone hours but requires exchanges or returns to be approved by phone within three days.
- Price quotes include 3% discount for cash payments
Patriot Gold Group
Patriot Gold Group is not on our main list because it employs scare tactics to sell precious metals. It has very few customer reviews on TrustPilot or the BBB.
- Site says 24-hour account set-up
Gold IRA Guide
A gold IRA is a niche investment product. This specialized IRA can help diversify a portfolio because precious metals, including gold, are often considered an investment to beat inflation. But make sure to do your due diligence when researching whether a precious metals IRA account makes sense for part of your retirement funds.
Many of these companies allow investors to buy precious metals that include silver, platinum and palladium in their IRAs in addition to gold. A gold IRA is distinctive because the account holder owns the actual precious metals, as opposed to stocks or shares of funds in mining companies.
What is a gold IRA?
Like a traditional IRA where you might hold stocks, bonds or mutual funds, a gold IRA is a tax-preferred investment vehicle — and the only option for holding precious metals in an IRA. You might also come across the term “precious metals IRA” used instead of gold IRA. Although the former is technically accurate, the phrase “gold IRA” is the one that tends to stick in the public imagination.
Gold IRAs are classified by the Internal Revenue Service as self-directed IRAs. According to IRS regulations, self-directed IRAs can hold alternative investments such as precious metals. (In their tax treatment, a gold IRA is different from a Roth IRA, which is an after-tax savings vehicle. See Money’s picks for best Roth IRA accounts.)
How does a gold IRA work?
The process of setting up a gold IRA involves several parties. First, you open up the account and buy precious metals from a company like the ones highlighted here. If you elect to fund the account with assets currently in another IRA, the gold IRA company will help you manage the rollover (more on that process below).
The gold IRA company also coordinates the involvement of the financial firm tasked with being the account custodian, as well as the depository institution where the precious metals you purchase are held. (You are not allowed, per IRS rules, to keep IRA gold at home.)
Gold IRA companies differ in that some let you choose between multiple custodial firms and depositories, while others require you to use a custodian and depository of their choosing.
Gold IRA rollover
A number of different kinds of retirement accounts can be used to fund a gold IRA via a rollover. You can roll over money held in a 401(k), 403(b), 457, pension or Thrift Savings Plan account without triggering a tax liability or penalties.
Is a 401(k) to gold IRA rollover right for me?
A gold IRA is a product best suited for sophisticated investors. If you have questions, consult with a financial advisor who is a fiduciary to decide whether gold makes sense in the context of your existing retirement investment portfolio. Gold IRA companies are not investment companies that have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest. Their sales representatives should not be relied on for financial advice.
If you rollover a 401(k) to a gold IRA — as in, sell the entire balance of a conventional account containing stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds in order to invest in gold — you’re making a very big change to your investment profile. Doing so should be extensively researched beforehand. If you’re unsure, take some time to learn the difference between an IRA vs. 401(k).
A conventional retirement account gives you the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of assets. This confers some important benefits, allowing you to:
- Generate income via dividends
- Establish a diversified investment mix to mitigate market risk
- Use market liquidity to adjust your allocation to your investing goals
Some gold IRA companies refer to their offerings as “diverse” because you can hold more than one kind of precious metal in it. From an investing perspective, this is not diverse, because precious metals — even different ones — are part of the same asset class. Gold also does not generate income, unlike dividend-earning assets.
Be sure to factor in the costs of cashing out as well: When you reach the age of 72 and must begin taking RMDs from your retirement accounts, you need to have your gold coins and gold bullion sent to you. That entails paying for shipping and insurance, or liquidating some of your gold.
Most gold IRA companies will buy back gold they sold you initially, but buybacks are generally at the wholesale price, which often is around 30% lower than the prevailing retail price.
Before opening a gold IRA, consider the context of your broader wealth-management strategy, and set realistic expectations about how much you anticipate your investments growing, and how long you should plan to hold those assets.
How does a 401(k) to gold IRA rollover work?
If you’ve decided a gold IRA is right for you, you can contact your retirement plan administrator to initiate the rollover or have the gold IRA company perform a direct rollover between the two companies. This kind of institution-to-institution transfer is recommended because you never take control of the funds yourself, which spares you the risk of a potential tax penalty.
If you do choose to handle that distribution yourself, the IRS has strict rules you have to follow: You have a 60-day window from the date you receive the funds to roll that money over into another qualified retirement account, or the IRS will treat that distribution as a withdrawal and charge you taxes plus an early withdrawal penalty if you are younger than 59 ½ years old.
You can roll over just part of the balance of another retirement account to fund a gold IRA — although keep in mind that some gold IRA companies have minimum order sizes of $50,000, which might limit your ability to retain enough funds in your old account to maintain a portfolio allocation that will sustain you in retirement.
Invest in a gold IRA
The precious metals in a gold IRA are generally coins and bars, some of which carry higher mark-ups than others. You can choose a mix of gold and silver, and some gold IRA companies also have platinum and palladium available that you can buy and hold in your IRA. When you must begin taking required minimum distributions, you can choose to liquidate the gold or have it shipped to you. In most cases, you will pay for shipping, so make sure to factor in that expense.
Most gold IRA companies will buy back gold or other precious metals they sold you, but buybacks are generally conducted at the wholesale price, which is about a third cheaper than the retail price.
How do you hold physical gold in an IRA?
Unlike a gold ETF, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the performance of gold, a gold IRA lets you hold the physical precious metals in an IRS-approved depository institution. If you want more flexibility with your precious metals, you might want to learn how to buy gold outside an IRA. If you don’t want the complications of investing in physical gold, you can research how to buy a gold ETF.
Gold IRA cost
Gold IRA expenses are generally higher than the expenses associated with conventional retirement accounts like 401(k)s. If you have a gold IRA, you will incur costs to manage and maintain the account, as well as to store and insure your gold. Precious metals prices can also be volatile over time.
There are a number of types and forms of precious metals the IRS has approved as IRA-eligible. Certain coins and bars manufactured by the U.S. Mint, the corresponding agency of certain other countries, or designated private minting companies, can be held in a gold IRA.
Gold IRA FAQ
What is IRA gold?
The IRS has extremely detailed regulations that dictate which coins and bars can be held in a gold IRA. The aim of these precise requirements on size, weight, design and metal purity is to ensure that retirement savers are keeping investment-grade assets, rather than collectibles, in their accounts.
What is the best gold IRA?
The “best” gold IRA is a highly subjective metric. It’s critical to conduct independent research and avoid gold IRA companies that use high-pressure sales pitches or scare tactics to push people into investments that aren’t right for them. You want to seek out investments that will help diversify your portfolio and mitigate risk.
What is a gold IRA company?
Gold IRA companies are essentially brokers that sell IRS-approved coins and bars of gold and other precious metals for you to put in a gold IRA. Many of these companies also sell non-IRA precious metal coins and bars to collectors.
Although some gold IRA companies present themselves as advisory in nature, be aware that the customer service and sales representatives you talk to are not registered investment professionals. Many are paid via sales commissions, so the more you buy, the bigger their paycheck.
Since you buy your precious metals to be held in the IRA with pre-tax dollars, you are taxed when you take distributions (similar to other tax-preferred retirement savings vehicles). If you have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) and don’t have the money to pay taxes owed at the time you take distributions, you could have to sell some of your precious metals. If the value of those metals has dropped, you could experience a loss when you sell.
Are gold IRAs worth it?
Some people prefer the idea of holding physical gold rather than getting exposure to precious metals by purchasing stocks in gold mining companies or ETFs based on gold.
Some investors believe this to be safer — an opinion gold IRA companies push, sometimes misleadingly. In reality, it is important to diversify across asset classes to get the most benefit out of your retirement investments. A conventional retirement account gives you the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of assets.
Why should I roll over my 401(k) into a gold IRA?
Since unexpected losses from investing in gold could throw a wrench into your retirement plan, deciding whether or not you should roll over a 401(k) into a gold IRA should be done with utmost care. If you’re unclear, consult with an independent financial advisor to discuss your investing timeline, goals and risk tolerance to determine whether a gold IRA investment or a silver IRA deserves a place in your retirement portfolio.
How We Evaluated the Best Gold IRA Companies
We evaluated gold IRA companies’ websites, along with consumer advocacy organizations the Better Business Bureau and Business Consumer Alliance, as well as consumer-review sites such as TrustPilot. We considered each of the gold IRA companies’ reputation, transparency and the quality of online education and resources they provide.
In addition, we compared the companies’ respective fee structures and minimum balances, when available, as well as how easy it was to find this information from their websites. We also analyzed the user-friendliness and responsiveness of their customer service.
We regularly update our list of best gold IRA companies to ensure that our highlighted picks continue to meet these requirements.
Summary of Money’s Best Gold IRA Companies
- Augusta Precious Metals – Best Overall
- Orion Metal Exchange – Best for Low Fees
- Birch Gold Group – Best for Fee Transparency
- Oxford Gold Group – Best for Beginners
- Noble Gold Investments – Best for Diverse Storage Options
- Advantage Gold – Best for Customer Popularity
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