As retirement draws near, it is quite normal to wonder what exactly you can do with all of that money you have saved. A bigger question, however, is how you can protect your retirement portfolio. Recent events have told us that nothing is quite predictable now and even the best-performing sectors of the market are struggling.
So, your next best bet is accumulating assets that appreciate. One of these assets happens to be precious metals. Unlike traditional or Roth IRA, to own more than a handful of these legally, you will need a precious metals IRA.
What is this account? How do you set it up? More specifically, with whom do you set it up? To answer those questions, we should look at self directed IRAs and the best precious metals IRA companies operating right now.
Top 4 Precious Metals IRA companies of 2023 at a Glance
Augusta Precious Metals: Editors Choice - Great Gold IRA company Buyback Program
Goldco Precious Metals: Runner up - Best Prices, Great Advisors and Trustworthy
American Hartford Gold: Great Price and selection on gold and silver
Birch Gold: Great Staff overall
#1 Augusta Precious Metals: Editors Choice - Great Gold IRA company Buyback Program (Rating 4.7/5)
Being as transparent as possible is one way to stand out from the competition in this market. This family-owned company managed to do that by implementing a fairly honest and transparent fee system for their clients to view and pursue, making them one of the best gold IRA companies overall.
In essence, Augusta Precious Metals informs you of everything you should know expense-wise when setting up a gold IRA account with them. This will include one-time fees along with transaction-related and yearly costs. The theory here is that letting a client know how much they can spend with Augusta regularly makes them more prepared for what lies ahead. The more prepared a person is, the more confident they will be in their gold IRA investments.
Aside from transparency, Augusta Precious Metals offers a money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with their work. Price protection policies are also set up for first-time gold IRA owners and investors to get the hang of purchasing gold without exposing them to a lot of risks.
The only criticism regularly lodged against Augusta Precious Metals is in their product selection and investment minimum. To be specific, you won’t find a lot of palladium and platinum with the company, and you must invest a high amount at the beginning to start doing business with them.
Transparent fee structure
Fair prices for all products
Great gold ira rollover services
Strong selection of gold and silver products
A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
Limited Palladium and Platinum options
High minimum investment
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#2 Goldco Precious Metals: Runner up - Best Prices, Great Advisors and Trustworthy (Rating 4.9/5)
The ability to make a confident yet informed investment decision can be made through investor education. In this regard, Goldco stands out in the industry as it offers a rather extensive investor education program for clients.
Whenever someone becomes a client for the company, they are given access to a library of content information, including blogs, eBooks, webinars, and free guides. Additionally, the company’s website also features client-exclusive tools like real-time price monitors and precious metals market analysis. The goal here is to give clients the information they need in a format that is easy to digest to make the best possible investment decision.
Goldco is also particularly known for what is coined “White-Glove Service.” Essentially, this is a form of extreme but non-intrusive corporate handholding where a specialist will be assigned to guide clients through every step of a process or transaction.
However, even with a high level of transparency with their fees, Goldco will not tell you how much their services will set you back. If you want to know, you have to ask them first. Also, there is a minimum investment of $50,000 if you want to open a gold IRA account with them. That happens to be the second-highest investment minimum ever recorded in the industry right now.
Those minor complaints aside, the company does offer a fast order-clearing rate, with transactions being completed within hours to a day.
Extensive investor education
Fast transaction processing
Best prices on gold and silver
Great buyback program
A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
White-Glove Customer Service
Not as upfront when disclosing fees and other charges
High investment minimum of $50,000
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#3 American Hartford Gold: Great Price (Rating 4.5/5)
Like any other precious metals IRA company, American Hartford Gold promises some services and features that will be worth the while such as competitive product pricing and reasonable fees. But where the company stands out the most is in its customer service.
Reviews have pointed out that the staff at American Hartford Gold are quite attentive and professional. They are known to answer almost every inquiry and can quickly address complaints raised by a complainant.
It also helps that the hotline of the company is nearly always available on a 24/7 basis. This should ensure that any transaction can be done with American Hartford Gold regardless of wherever the client is and at what time they made the call.
That being said, the company is also quite infamous for its relatively slow transaction speeds. It could take 3 to 5 days before any order is cleared and a week for shipping to arrive. And in the matter of shipping, AHG only offers such for clients within US territories
Excellent Customer Service
24/7 Hotline availability
10K investment minimum
Extensive investor education
Transactions can take days to get cleared
No online price listing
Cannot ship outside of the US
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#4 Birch Gold: Great Staff overall (Rating 4.4/5)
Like a lot of excellent precious metals IRA companies out there, Birch Gold assures full transparency over their fees. However, they do take things a bit further by making such information accessible for would-be clients.
If you want to know how much opening a gold IRA with Birch Gold will set you back, you won’t have to bother with making a call or setting up an appointment. All the information that you need such as fees, charges, and transaction-related expenses is provided to you on their website. It also helps that any change in the prices will be announced beforehand so potential clients wouldn’t be caught unaware in future transactions.
The company also implements a flat-rate fee structure which can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, those who buy frequently and in bulk can maximize their spending. On the other hand, those who buy irregularly and in small amounts might find the transaction, shipping, and storage fees to be more than what they paid for their order’s value in the long term.
Will accommodate custodians and depositories not affiliated with them
Easily accessible information especially for the fees
Sizeable product library for palladium and platinum
Flat rate fees are ideal for frequent and bulk buyers
Long transaction clearing process that could potentially last a month
A flat rate is not ideal for infrequent buyers
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What Is a Precious Metals IRA?
At this point, you must understand that a precious metals IRA is but one of several methods that you can use to protect your money from inflation and other bad economic downturns. So what are precious metals IRAs exactly?
Before investing in a precious metals IRA, it is important to understand the difference between traditional IRA and precious metals IRAs. A traditional IRA is a retirement savings account that is funded with pre-tax dollars and grows tax-deferred.
A precious metals IRA, on the other hand, is a retirement account that is funded with physical gold, silver, platinum, or palladium. Precious metals IRAs are a type of self directed ira account, which means that the account holder has more control over his or her investment choices. In addition, precious metals IRAs are not subject to the same annual contribution limits as traditional IRAs. As a result, investors looking to increase their exposure to precious metals may want to consider opening a self-directed precious metals IRA.
Another key difference is that traditional IRAs typically have annual contribution limits of $5,500 (or $6,500 for those over age 50), while precious metals IRAs have much higher limits of $30,000 per year. With precious metals IRAs, investors also have the option of rolling over their existing 401(k) or 403(b) accounts. As a result, these accounts can be an appealing choice for those who are looking to diversify their retirement portfolio.
There are IRAs out there that were designed to store paper assets like stocks and bonds, and these happen to be the most common form of retirement accounts. However, and as the name would imply, a precious metals retirement account allows you to store gold and other highly valuable physical precious metals.
What makes IRAs complicated is that they are not “physical” storage. Your precious metals IRA is connected to an IRA custodian that manages the entries of the logbook and a depository vault where the actual assets are stored. What complicates things even further is that the use of your IRA is subject to special IRS rules. If you fail to meet certain conditions when using it, you will be made liable for tax penalties under the law.
One other quality that all IRAs have become known for is the cost. Essentially, you are expected to spend as much as $300.00 every year just to maintain it. That will not include the fees you incur whenever you buy and ship precious metals. All in all, the IRA is both a special privilege given to you by the law and a source of obligations.
Advantages of Precious Metals IRAs?
What would be the reason why you would rather go through the hassle of setting up a precious metal IRA? There are many reasons to do so but, more or less, they would revolve around the advantages that such an account brings. This will include the following:
A Precious Metal IRA Allows for Diversification of Assets in Physical Precious Metals
Any seasoned financial advisor would tell you that your best bet of survival in any economy is to diversify your assets. That means you invest in more than just one type of asset to spread a safety net for your retirement portfolio.
With a precious metals IRA, you can introduce a new type of asset to your portfolio in the form of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. They are not as volatile as fiat currencies and currently enjoy a high level of demand due to their finite supply.
Diversifying your assets even further is the fact that these products can come in precious metal coins, bullions, and bar form, and can be sourced from multiple countries. If you time your investments right, your IRA can store American Gold Eagles and Gold Buffalos, Canadian Maple Leaves, and various bars. There are even some IRAs right now that allow for the storage of digital currencies like Bitcoin to further diversify your investments.
Beyond Diversity, a Precious Metal IRA Provides Opportunity
Is your investment options with a precious metals IRA limited to 4 metals only regardless of their form? The answer is no. You can always use the IRA to store other forms of assets that may or may not be related to precious metals.
For instance, if you want, you can invest in the firms that directly mine these precious metals by buying company shares. Also, you can leverage your physical gold bullion to buy some government bonds. These are special contracts that bind the state to pay you back plus interest after a period no matter what may happen.
So why entertain the addition of paper assets to your precious metals IRA? The answer is passive income. Precious metals may retain their value and appreciate, but they do not generate money. With some stocks and bonds in your IRA, you make sure that your savings are not only preserved value-wise but also earn money for you.
And the best part about this income is that it is subject to tax deferments or exemptions, depending on the IRS rules. The former means that you will only have to pay for such taxes later. The latter means that you don’t have to pay taxes for your earnings at all which makes it tax free.
A Precious Metal IRA Provides Safety
Current events make it clear to everyone that nothing is certain or assured nowadays. Even the sectors that were performing well in the last decade are struggling. There is no assurance that the spending power of a particularly strong currency like the US Dollar might remain in such a position within the coming months.
What this tells us is that money right now is all too easily swayed by the movements of a volatile economy. You will need to put a portion of your savings into assets that can maintain their value even under the worst economic conditions. And this is where precious metals become a viable investment option.
Because precious metals have their own high intrinsic value as well as high demand, they can maintain a particularly strong stance in any economy they are being circulated. With just a small portion of your wealth invested in gold, silver, palladium, and platinum, (the exact amount which shall be discussed later), you can cast a safety net wide enough to protect most of your wealth from inflation.
Precious Metal IRA Offers a Level of Control Not Found in Any Other Retirement Solution
The truth with many retirement accounts in the market right now is that you have little to no control over how they are built. The deductions every month/year are automatic and the amount that you are entitled to use once you reach retirement age is equally fixed.
An individual retirement account is one of the few retirement plans that give you full control as to how you use it. For instance, if you want your IRA to store nothing but gold, then no one could stop you from doing so. If you want the account to contain some rare coins and bars, then you can do so. And if you want to sell a portion of your wealth stored inside, then every IRA Company has a process that can let you do exactly that.
Of course, there are some limitations set in place like in the annual contributions and withdrawals. After all, an account with a lot of tangible advantages can easily become an avenue for tax-related abuses. The IRS would rather not let that happen, of course.
Is Silver or Gold IRA Good for Retirement Investment?
The precious metals that can be stored in a precious metals IRA are gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, and can come in many forms such as bullion coins, small bullion bars, and proof coins. These products can be sourced from the United States or from other nations across the globe and must be approved precious metals before storing in precious metal, gold, or silver IRAs.
This is quite important as the circulation of internationally-minted products was not allowed in the 1990s. Your options back then were limited to American Gold Eagles and Gold Buffalos, as well as some US-specific bars and coins. That all changed in 1997 when the IRS allowed for coins coming from other countries to be circulated in US IRAs.
There’s a caveat, however: you have to make sure that what you are buying passes IRS standards and is an approved precious metals. For gold, that means the purity must be at 99.95%. For silver, platinum, and palladium, the purity must be at a near-perfect 99.99% at the very least.
There is also the issue of counterfeits. Both federal and state governments are cracking hard on the circulation of fake coins and bars, but the problem is not going away anytime soon. Your duty as a would-be buyer, then, is to make sure that all your purchases are made with a legitimate and reputable gold IRA company.
How Much of Your IRA Should Include Precious Metals?
Can you use your IRA to store nothing else but physical precious metals? The answer is yes. However, experts believe that you shouldn’t do that. Regardless of the name, your precious metal IRA should still be diversified storage with 5-10% of it being composed of precious metals.
Why can’t you use 100% of your IRA for precious metals? There are three reasons for that. First, the best method of survival as an investor is always diversification. This, as was stated before, means that your assets should be composed of more than one type at any given time. If you use your IRA for only gold, silver, palladium, and platinum, you are defeating the very purpose of diversification.
Second, there is the matter of income. Precious metals might be good at retaining and appreciating in value but they are otherwise terrible when it comes to income generation. Paper assets like stocks and bonds outclass them in this regard as those can earn dividends for you so long as the company issuing them has a stable stream of profit.
For precious metals, the only way you can profit from them is if you sell them to someone else. And there are some guidelines and fees involved in that aspect that will be bothersome for you.
Third, there is this prevailing myth that precious metals have always been top-performing commodities. The truth is that they might have strong values, but there have been times in history when their values drop below profitable level. You have to remember that there is no such thing as an untouchable, completely recession-proof asset nowadays, and precious metals are not the exemption from such.
Thus, it would be prudent of you to spread your investments smartly. Tap into one sector of the market and another, making small but considerable investments here and there. The larger you cast your net, the wider your hedge will be against the worst economic downturns.
How to Open a Precious Metal IRA
There are quite a few differences between a precious metals IRA and a standard IRA to make the latter a bit complicated to set up. However, that does not mean that you can’t expect a few things to happen when you are trying to open one. Here are some of the steps you can expect when opening a precious metals IRA.
Select a Self-Directed IRA Custodian
None of the IRA companies in the market right now are allowed to handle precious metal IRAs. Self directed IRA Custodians are the only entity allowed to manage your IRA. This can be a bank, an equity trust company, or any other IRS-approved institution. The list of their services is quite considerable, but what you have to remember is that the custodian is primarily charged with investing in assets for you.
As to which self directed IRA custodian you should choose, you only need to pick the one that you can trust the most. Also, be mindful of what fees they are charging you for maintaining the IRA.
Choose a Precious Metals Dealer
Precious Metals Dealers will purchase precious metals for you once they receive money from your IRA to the custodian. To find a suitable dealer, you must do some thorough research.
What should you look for, then? For dealers, a sign of legitimacy is if they are part of industry groups like the Industry Council of Tangible Assets, the Professional Numismatists Guild, and the American Numismatics Association. These groups set the standards for which precious metals dealers have to follow, and becoming a member of such does involve a lot of effort.
If you can’t choose one, then consider what the IRA company is recommending to you. More often than not, a legitimate IRA company will also do business with equally legitimate dealers.
Decide What Products to Buy
Once you have your dealer, you can then look at what products are available for purchase. Before anything else, you have to remember that the availability of certain gold and silver coins and bars do change from time to time. The prices for such will also change, depending on any shift in the market.
As for what to choose, it all boils down to what you prefer or are most familiar with. Assuming that you are new to the concept of precious metals IRA purchases, you might want to start with something that you know like American Gold Eagles and Gold Buffalos. You can even try some Australian Koala Bullion Coins or Canadian Maple Leaf coins while you are just starting out. Remember some companies offer a variety of precious metal purchases like platinum coins while others only specialize in gold coins or silver coins.
Once you have gotten the hang of the more common products, you might want to branch out to rarer (and riskier) products like mint-specific coins or internationally-minted coins. You can even try some gold bars, palladium bullion, or gold and silver bullion if you can find a dealer with a plentiful supply of such.
Choose a Depository
Again, the precious metals IRA company will not be the one to physically store your purchases. That duty is delegated to an IRS approved depository facility like Brinks, the International Depository Service, and the Delaware Depository Service.
Look for the facility that is closest to you and meets your needs/budget the most. If you have the money for it, choose segregated-type vault storage. This way, your assets have an extra layer of security inside the facility.
Complete the Transaction
Now that everything has been set up, the last thing to do is to complete the order. The custodian, IRA company, and depository service will do the rest of the managing of your accounts and assets. All that you have to do is to regularly check on the value of your orders. You will never know when you might have a need to take them out of the vault.
How Do You Make a Withdrawal from a Precious Metals IRA?
There are two options for which you can make a withdrawal from your IRA. The first option is In-Kind where your physical precious metals will be sent to your address. You might have to pay for shipping but you can sell your gold however you want.
The second option is a purchase by the depositary. The premise here is simple: the depository storing your assets will buy the gold you requested to be withdrawn. As for the price, it will be at an amount closest to the most recent market value.
Just do remember that a withdrawal from your IRA is subject to tax laws. If you fail to sell within 2 months, you will have to deal with tax penalties. This is why it would be better if you consult with a financial advisor or lawyer first before you decide on a withdrawal.
Final Thought on the Best Precious Metals IRA Companies
Since an IRA is demanding and expensive, you would rather invest your IRA funds with the best gold IRA companies. In that regard, the best choice would have to be Augusta Precious Metals.
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The reasoning here is simple: every other company offers roughly the same set of perks and advantages as well as services and features. What you should be looking for is a company that can do better by offering assistance in every step of the process.
This is where Augusta Precious Metals excels as their white-glove service ensures that you go through each process attaining your goals and without overstretching your finances. With that level of assistance, Augusta Precious Metals is considered the best gold IRA company for first-time gold IRA investors and would-be applicants.