What to Know About Gold IRAs
We evaluated 20 well-known Gold IRAs, and after careful review identified the 7 best options in 2020. To draw our conclusions, we checked with customers in the market, reviewed government data and consulted experts in finance. While many of the Gold IRAs were highly visible, we found five options that deserved special recognition: Best Service (Lear Capital), Best of the Best (Goldco), Most Competitive Pricing (Orion Metal Exchange), Best Buyback Program (Patriot Gold), Most Flexible Pricing (Oxford Gold Group), Best In-person Service (Birch Gold Group) and Best Buyback Plan (American Hartford Gold Group).
In this guide, we’ll cover what a Gold IRA is, share tips for making wise Gold IRA investment choices, examine five best Gold IRA providers, and answer some frequently asked questions about investing in gold. By the time you are finished reading, you should have a clear understanding how and where to invest.
Top Gold IRA tips:
- In order to maximize your investment, you are likely better off purchasing gold bullion instead of collectable coins
- Make sure you buy IRS-approved coins
- Hold investments to maturity to avoid tax penalties
- Be aware of tax penalties for home storage options
Tips for a Wise Gold IRA buyer
“Invest in gold.” It’s a common message being broadcast to investors these days with some appeal. As a precious metal, gold seems timelessly valuable. Recent dramatic fluctuations in the market may have you thinking it’s an appealing option for you, too. But is buying gold wise in the modern era? As it turns out, there are IRS-approved methods for investing in gold. Gold Individual Retirement Accounts (Gold IRAs) tie the relative stability of gold bullion with the convenience and benefits of a modern IRA. But which gold or precious metals IRA is right for your current situation?
Be a skeptical investor
These investments may be a credible option for anyone wanting to diversify, but there are many providers, and many options for how to invest. With many companies available, it’s important you understand the pros and cons of each.
Not every company advertised today is a credible choice. In fact, there are very strict regulations that IRAs must follow with regard to how they store and transfer precious metals. Most retirement experts have recommended that 5-15% of your total portfolio be in precious metals, with some even suggesting up to 20%. Whether you choose to put that allocation into gold alone — or mix it up with silver, platinum or palladium – investment firms must follow the rules to protect your wealth. Following these guidelines will help you make wise purchases.
Buy IRS-Approved Coins for your Gold IRA
While IRAs may hold your gold in physical bars, these are not as easy to liquidate as precious metal coins. Therefore, many investors seek plans that can hold their investment in coins, which are easier to transfer and not as easily counterfeited. Not all gold and silver coins are acceptable for IRA investment. Be certain that your assets are categorized by the IRS to fund your account.
Approved Gold coins for a Gold IRA include:
- American Eagle gold coin
- American Eagle silver coin
- American Eagle platinum coin
- Maple Leaf palladium coin
There are eleven other IRS-approved 1 oz. options. Know exactly what you are buying before you invest to be sure you make a wise buying choice. U.S. Code Title 26 § 408 spells out the restrictions for buying approved coins.
Hold your Gold IRA to Maturity
If you need access to your IRA funds, you can take distributions from your IRA in the same manner you would a traditional IRA. In most instances, you can opt to receive the actual bullion – or the cash value of your precious metals. But be aware, you will be taxed accordingly and will be responsible for any liability to the IRS for early withdrawals.
Treat a Gold IRA as a long term investment for retirement and hold it to maturity.
Be Advised of Gold IRA Storage Choices
It’s important to know if your metals will be stored with the metals of other investors. While many IRAs do offer you the ability to keep your gold in a separate storage, beware of any IRA that offers investors the option to store it in their own home. This is not an IRS-approved method of IRA investment, and will result in potential tax penalties. Avoid companies that offer “checkbook IRAs,” “collectibles” or the possibility of “home storage” in a safe or bank deposit box.
Our Search For The Best Gold IRAs
1. We searched for a comprehensive list of Gold IRA providers
2. We evaluated these Gold IRAs based on our expert guided buying criteria, looking for IRS-approved coins & storage options
3. We brought you the best Gold IRAs for consideration
There are dozens of gold IRAs available today, with many of them focusing specifically on retirees. Moreover, not all IRA needs are the same. So we searched the top 20 companies and narrowed the list based on our expert criteria. Then researched further to determine the best fit companies for a variety of needs. These result was a shortlist of companies that have handled precious metals IRAs for years, with thousands of satisfied customers to show for their security and customer service.
Five companies made the list for most reliable and best overall investor satisfaction. They are Lear Capital, Goldco, Orion Metal Exchange, and Patriot Gold Group. Oxford Gold Group is also a notable company to have on the radar. Here is what we did to arrive at our top gold IRA choices.
We looked at the companies you want to know about:
Many of the top companies are mentioned numerous times on television, radio, and social media. These are the companies most likely to be used by consumers, so we started with these. We also referenced the lists of “top gold IRA” sites for new companies that you may not have heard of. Then we went a little deeper.
We checked credentials
In light of our expert identified need for IRS approval, we checked to make sure our worksheet of companies were licensed to deal in gold and bullion services, as well as manage IRS-approved retirement accounts. Then, we checked with the Better Business Bureau. We only selected companies that were BBB members with a rating of “A” or higher. If they didn’t have the credentials, they did not make our list.
We requested starter kits
Most all companies allow you to call for a starter kit or more information. We wanted to narrow down the list to those that would answer your questions right away, either with a live chat rep, or an easy-to-use request form. Companies that responded within a few days (or quicker) stayed on our list.
We checked with customers
While you can’t trust everything you read online, it’s easy to notice a trend among companies in the reviews and feedback left by customers. Negative reviews were researched to see if issues were resolved. In fact, a company with a bad review that made good on fixing the problem was more likely to be included than a company with all good reviews (because no one is perfect).
We compared costs
At the end of the day, your retirement plan is about having enough money to live on — and thrive — in your later years. If your nest egg is eaten up by high fees or questionable charges, it’s not in your best interest. That’s why we looked at startup costs and aimed to find companies that balanced cost with features. In other words, value is where it’s at.
We looked for superior service
Do you need a company that can ship your actual gold (or a cash equivalent) without extra fees or shipping charges and with a timeliness guarantee? Interested in a high-tech storage facility? These premium perks are available, and the best companies stand out as giving them to their customers at no extra charge.
Gold IRA Reviews
The following companies currently offer gold IRAs and have been rated highly by customers, the BBB, and the press. Find your investor profile — with the company that best matches it — below.
Lear Capital Review
Best Service |
This company is well-versed in assisting customers with IRA and 401(k) rollovers. The majority of their customers already have retirement accounts and wish to diversify those accounts with silver and gold investments.
Gold coin options. Screenshot: Lear Website
Lear is a market leader in the buying and selling of bullion. Their knowledge of the gold and silver markets is established in the private markets and translates well to their IRA management. Their experts should be able to help you find the right precious metal for your needs and personal tastes. The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
A $180 annual membership cost is all you pay for management of your IRA. The $180 covers the costs of storage at Brinks, custodian management, and quarterly statements. There are no additional fees from Lear Capital for maintaining your IRA, although there may be costs associated with buying, selling, and transfer of assets. The IRA investment minimum is $7,500 and they sometimes lower that figure for breif promotional periods.
Read our full Lear Capital review.
Best of the Best |
This company has recently made a big splash in the industry, with a strong endorsement from former presidential candidate and U.S. representative Dr. Ron Paul.
Ron Paul author at Goldco. Screenshot: Goldco Website
Goldco has also carved out a reputation for personalizing their services to suit the needs of customers. The company is known for it’s professionalism, careful attention to clients, and consultative approach to help meet customers’ retirement goals.
With its recently-built, state-of-the-art storage facility and the ability to store your precious metals separately, this company is designed for the investor who wants access and accountability. The modest $200 annual fee (waived the first year) is a bit higher than other companies, but gives you the ability to see your own, individual metals assets at any time.
Orion Metal Exchange Review
Most Competitive Pricing |
Coin options. Screenshot: OME Website
Orion Metal Exchange (OME) offers investor direct pricing and over 50 years of precious metals investment service. While Orion is based in Los Angeles, it has options for investors in all 50 states to invest in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium for their IRAs.
The company displays their list of the IRS-approved coins on their website. Orion recommends these precious metals to be stored at one a local Brinks or Delaware Depository location. Although home storage is an option with OME, it is not recommended by the company for IRS compliance.
The costs for an Orion Metal Exchange Gold IRA are minimal. We like that Orion Metal Exchange doesn’t charge a setup or transfer fee, and the company will pay for storage for up to three years.
For more information, read our full Orion Metal Exchange review.
Patriot Gold Group Review
No Fee for Life IRA |
If you are looking for a company that makes investing in gold affordable, one option stands out – Patriot Gold Group. We like the company for making getting started a straightforward, 24-hour turnaround 3-step process with no fees for life. Also notable is Patriot Gold Group’s claim to always put customers in touch with owners of the company. And there are no management fees for gold or silver IRAs, so costs are manageable and tied to the purchase of assets.
You can initiate a gold IRA account online by filling out their online form with your basic information and the best time to be reached. You can rollover an existing IRA into a gold IRA or start a new gold IRA from scratch.
Patriot Gold Group has a 5-star rating at ConsumerAffairs, a AAA rating from the Business Council Alliance and a seasoned management team. If you’re interested in more information, contact the company at (844) 524-9001 or get a free investor kit online.
Read our comprehensive Patriot Gold Group review.
Oxford Gold Group
Most Flexible Pricing |
Oxford Gold Group has been around for more than 20 years, and has become popular among people hoping to protect their assets against uncertain markets and a potential downturn in the economy.
This company works with investors to develop an investment strategy for minimizing risk, and then uses that approach to inform investing in precious metals. Oxford is proud of their custom friendly service and convenient access to their 24/7 customer care team- should question arise during your investment journey.
Whether you are an experienced investor or just getting started, Oxford Gold Group has experience to help you meet your goals. Getting started with a gold or silver IRA with Oxford Gold Group consists of three steps:
2. Second, an Oxford Gold Group account executive will contact your current IRA custodian to get the ball rolling on the rollover process. Once finalized, it takes about three to five business days for your funds to transfer into your new Precious Metals IRA.
3. Finally, once your new IRA is funded, your account executive will speak with you about the metals options available and walk you through choosing the best ones. After you’ve made your selection, the metals are shipped to the depository and stored.
Read our comprehensive Oxford Gold Group review.
Birch Gold Group
Best In Online Education |
Since 2003, Birch Gold Group has been selling physical gold, silver, platinum and palladium to be put in an IRA or kept for physical possession. They’ve since become a leading company in Precious Metals IRAs and strive to educate consumers on the best way to turn precious metals into a long-term investment.
Birch Gold Group offers IRA-approved precious metals to be placed in or rolled over to a Precious Metals IRA. This offers a layer of protection unique to this type of IRA. The company will educate you in person or online about how Precious Metals IRAs can diversify your portfolio, hedge against inflation and show strong growth potential.
In addition to its “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau, Birch Gold Group has won numerous awards including five stars with TrustLink touting their customer service and a “AAA” rating with Business Consumer Alliance
Read our complete Birch Gold Group review for more details.
American Hartford Gold Group
Best Buyback Plan |
Based in Los Angeles, American Hartford Gold Group specializes in Gold and Precious Metals IRAs. Signing up for a Precious Metals IRA is simplified to a three-step process with American Hartford Gold Group. The first step is to call a American Hartford IRA Product Specialist who walks you through the necessary paperwork. Next, you’ll fund your account. If you’re rolling over an existing account, your new Precious Metals IRA will have funds transferred to it within three days. Once your new Precious Metals IRA has funded, you can select your metals. Finally, you’ll purchase your precious metals which will be stored in an IRA-approved vault.
American Hartford Gold stands out thanks to its BuyBack Commitment. This lets customers sell their precious metals while avoiding additional fees during the liquidation process.
For more details, read our full American Hartford Gold Group review.
Other Gold IRA Companies
APMEX is one of the largest precious metals dealers in the country, and specializes in Gold IRAs. Check out our APMEX comprehensive review.
JM Bullion buys and sales precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and platinum. Check out our JM Bullion comprehensive review.
Augusta Precious Metals provides each customer with a customer service partner to assist with the buying process. Check out our Augusta Precious Metals comprehensive review.
Goldco offers precious metal brokerage services to help customers purchase precious metals. Check out our Goldco comprehensive review.
Related Gold IRA Resources
Readers of this Gold IRA guide also found these related articles helpful.
Read about the different forms of physical gold you can purchase, where you can purchase it and tips for buying gold.
There are many ways to invest in gold in addition to a Gold IRA. Check out seven of the most popular forms of investing in gold.
Multiple factors affect the price of gold including inflation, monetary policy and supply. Read about the various things that can affect the price of gold.
Frequently Asked Questions about Gold IRAs
Here are answers to the most commonly-asked questions regarding gold and precious metals IRAs. Review them to get an understanding of how an account can be started to help you build wealth in retirement.
What is a gold IRA?
A Gold IRA is handled much the same as a traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account). The main difference is that the assets held are physical gold bars, coins, or other precious metal pieces. Unlike a traditional IRA, which deals in paper assets, you will own the actual assets represented by your investments. For more information on IRAs, see the IRS guidance on IRAs.
Why should I invest in a gold IRA?
While it is a personal decision to choose a gold IRA, many investors favor them over traditional IRAs because gold is seen as an asset that could hold its value against severe market fluctuations and inflation. Gold would never be valued at zero dollars.
Is a gold IRA safe?
Any investment carries risk, and gold IRAs are not a sure thing. You must carefully weigh the pros and cons of investing in physical bullion. If you feel that investing in gold is a good risk, then you’ll likely find a gold IRA to have similar assurances.
What do gold IRA companies do?
Just as you would choose the best company to handle a traditional IRA, you will need a company or firm to handle your gold investments. A reputable gold IRA company can assist you with the purchase, storage, and sale of your gold investments, as well as rolling over traditional IRAs, 401(k)’s, and eligible retirement fund account assets to a gold IRA account.
Do gold IRAs only handle gold?
The other name for “gold IRA” is “precious metals IRA”. This is because many of these companies also offer investments in silver, platinum or palladium. They may hold your investment in bars or coins, but a reputable company will only offer approved assets with purity standards that meet the requirements of the IRS.
Can I do a gold IRA rollover?
Yes. In fact, many of those who choose to invest in a gold IRA do so with funds they acquired while using a traditional IRA or company-managed 401(k). Retirees are also making the switch to gold with accounts they take with them upon leaving the workforce. Many investors choose to roll over just a portion of their IRA or 401(k) to a gold IRA as a way to diversify their nest egg.
How much do I need to get started?
Each gold IRA company will have its own minimum investment requirement, but it’s possible to open an account with just $100 in investments, plus any applicable storage and administrative costs. Fees will vary by company, as well, and may cut into your total investment amount. Research each company to get the best value for your investment dollar.
Can I see my precious metals in person?
While each company has different arrangements for the storage and transfer of gold, silver, and other bullion, many do offer separate storage spaces for each investor. This is called “segregated storage” and it ensures that each investor’s metals are stored specifically for that investor. There is no mixing of metals in this instance, and so it is also possible to arrange to visit your own, specific metal assets. Contact your gold IRA management company for details of what they offer for storage and visitation.
How can I get my gold?
If you are at the qualified age to start getting disbursements from your account (usually 59 ½ ), you can usually choose to take funds in either cash value, or by having the actual metals shipped to you directly (Remember that you have to start taking payments at 70 ½, if you haven’t already). Each company will have their own procedures to follow to request withdrawals, which may be subject to IRS penalties or taxes – the same as cash.
Concluding Thoughts on Gold IRAs
Gold IRAs can be a smart investment, and you have options for chooing a Gold IRA company.
Investing in a Gold IRA is one of many ways to plan for retirement, and if you choose to do so, you should be aware of the way to do it wisely. There is likely a company out there that represents your values in price, customer service, product, and storage. These companies earned our top spots among all categories:
The Best Gold IRA Companies
|Best For||Gold IRA Company||Phone|
|1||Best Service||Lear Capital||888-717-0870|
|2||Best of the Best||Goldco||877-328-1075|
|3||Most Competitive Pricing||Orion Metal Exchange||888-607-4685|
|4||Best Buyback Program||Patriot Gold Group||844-524-9001|
|5||Most Flexible Pricing||Oxford Gold Group||888-200-5586|
|6||Best Online Education||Birch Gold Group||888-200-5586|
|7||Best Buyback Plan||American Hartford Gold Group||(877) 672-6779|