It’s a generally-accepted truth out there that life is more often than not unpredictable. When it comes to your savings, there is no telling if their value and spending power will be the same a few years from now. All it takes is for one bad economic downturn, and the value of your hard-earned money will be cut down.
Is there a way to protect your money from severe unwanted changes like Inflation? The answer is yes. There are quite a lot of ways to do so and one of the most direct methods is an Individual Retirement Account. Using an IRA, you can convert a part of your savings into high-performing assets, which then can provide a safety net for all of your money in the future.
But what exactly is a gold IRA? Who do you choose to set up one? To answer those questions, it is best to refer to a guide on how to pick the best gold IRA companies to do business with.
Top 4 Gold IRA companies at a Glance
- Goldco – Best Pricing and Buy Back
- Augusta Precious Metals – Great Gold ira company overall
- American Hartford Gold – Trusted Gold ira company
- Birch Gold – Great staff
The challenge with IRAs is that they can look intimidating to maintain for anyone entirely new to the concept of retirement-age investing. However, the need for one increases every year, especially with the current state of the world.
Having that in mind, Goldco operates with the premise of making things easier to understand and more convenient for would-be clients. Various reviews point out that the staff of Goldco are quite attentive and willing to assist clients through every step of whatever transaction they engage in.
Aside from that, the company aims to educate investors regarding whatever transaction they make. On paper, this should ensure that whatever decision their client makes would be beneficial to them in the long term. These features are supported by other services including rollovers, non-IRA precious metals purchases, and a buyback program.
Goldco requires an investment minimum of $50,000.00, the second-highest recommended minimum in the industry right now. However, this is offset by a promotions program for first-time investors and a $175.00 total annual cost for IRA fees. Ratings-wise, Goldco maintains a steady 4.5/5 star or 90-100% ratings from customer reviews and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau
- Great Precious Metals Buy Back Guarantee
- Comparatively Low annual gold IRA fees
- Solid selection of gold and silver coins
- High investment minimum of $50K
- Bullion selection is comparatively limited
This company is relatively new to the scene, having only been opened in 2012. However, it has become a contender for one of the top-rated Gold IRA companies with a nearly spotless record. Essentially, for over 10 years, the company has received no formal complaint against its products and services, while maintaining an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
The company is known for keeping its processes simple and easy to understand. So as long as a client has all the requirements, they can finish a process within three steps. And if necessary, the agents are known to assist clients and lay out the basics of running an IRA in the simplest terms possible.
The hand-holding does not stop with the setup process only. Once you have an IRA, Augusta’s agents are known to assist you through your transaction. Appointments are phone-only but the agents do take their time in listening to customer queries and addressing any issue that might pop up.
Even if they have the highest minimum at $50K for IRA transactions, Augusta offsets this by having a product library with a 99% overall rating in purity. Also, those who meet certain purchase requirements can have their fees for storage, shipping, and maintenance waived for the first year, along with some other worthwhile perks.
- Has no formal complaints for over 10 years
- Maintains an A+ rating from the BBB
- Extremely transparent when disclosing information
- Gold and silver products have a 99% purity rating
- Excellent customer service
- $50K Investment Minimum
Out of the best Gold IRA Companies, AHG stands out for having the strongest focus on providing excellent customer service. Various customer reviews across the Internet point out that the company maintains a near 24/7 support line to address customer concerns regardless of when and where they are calling.
Aside from that near-constant availability, the company also trains its agents to be as attentive as possible when interacting with customers, and to address situations to the best of their ability.
Aside from customer service, the company also aims to educate its clients about their investments. With an investor education program handled by professionals with years of experience in the market, the company hopes that whoever engages with them becomes smarter with their investment choices with each transaction.
As for their Gold IRA custodians’ fees on storage and shipping, it is completely variable. This means that whatever you have to pay every year reflects on your buying activities and preferences. In other words, you only pay for exactly what you ordered, and in what quantity as far as shipping, storage, and account maintenance are concerned
- 10K investment minimum
- Always available customer service
- Buyback option with no liquidation charge
- No shipping options if you live outside of the US
- Slower transaction clearance time at 3-5 days
- No online price listing
Another new contender in the market, Birch Gold has only made it big in 2013. However, it has made a name for itself as having one of the most reliable shipping services. Essentially, Birch is one of the Gold IRA companies that feature a seamless delivery service that gets your gold to the depositary facility or your doorstep in the quickest and most efficient means possible.
They also offer promotions for those that meet certain requirements. For instance, if your purchase is worth $10,000.00, then the shipping fee can be waived.
As for their products, Birch chooses to focus on all 4 metals, namely gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in both coin and bullion form. As for their annual fees, it starts at $180.00 for the maintenance while their investment minimum is set at $10,000.00.
- Free shipping for purchases worth $10K and above
- Low investment minimum at $10K
- A sizeable selection of Palladium products
- Agents are not exactly forthcoming when it comes to disclosing fees
- Buyback might be offered, but it is not always guaranteed to be available
Why Should You Invest in Gold IRA
One of the most pressing reasons to get a Gold IRA is so you could convert your hard-earned money into an asset that maintains its value for a long time. For instance, gold is one of the few remaining commodities that managed to only appreciate in value as the years passed. In fact, people have been trading gold for millennia now and it was as valuable now as it was back then.
Also driving the value further up because of the finite supply of gold across the world while the demand increases. And whenever demand for gold increases, it is expected that the gold prices will increase as well. Sure, there are still a lot of reserves out there that are yet to be tapped but there is no denying that whoever owns gold now will have a highly valuable asset with them in the decades to come.
Another reason to invest in an IRA is that the IRS tends to be a bit more lenient with you. Since you contribute to the circulation of gold in the economy, you are allowed certain amenities as far as your taxes are concerned. Whatever advantage is given to you is dependent on your specific situation.
Finally, there is the chance to pass something highly valuable to your next of kin. An IRA will not stop existing even if you were to expire. Depending on the arrangement you chose, the IRA and all the gold stored inside can be used by the people that you love. In turn, they can pass it on to the next generation.
The Benefits of a Gold IRA
So, what exactly are you setting yourself up for when you set up an IRA with the Gold IRA Companies? Here are some of the advantages you get from having one:
The Rising Price of Gold
One key trait of Gold is that it has never, ever depreciated for centuries. Sure, the price might drop but it has never done so to a significant degree that those who invested in it experienced a net loss.
Combined with its multi-industry demand and finite supply, it is expected that the value of gold will continue to increase as the years’ pass. Its ability to perform well under any economic condition has made many consider gold to be a suitable hedge against inflation.
The value of gold coins and bullion might differ depending on the mint, year, and purity but rarely does it happen for their values to drop severely. Also, a good IRA company will guide you through the buying process so you will make the right purchases, depending on prevailing market trends.
Long Term Safeguard and Protection
Paper currencies, although crucial for living, are utterly at the mercy of a volatile market. The dollar, for example, is so dependent on a stable economy that its value has gone up and down several times within half a decade.
And aside from money, other assets like stocks and bonds are also dependent on external factors. If you invest in company stocks, their value will be determined by how well that company performs in the next few financial quarters. And if they perform badly, you run the risk of losing more than what you initially paid for the stocks.
Due to a unique mix of high demand and limited supply, precious metals are not subjected to the same volatility. Prices might drop from time to time, but their value will never drop severely to cause a loss for investors.
An IRA can help you convert your paper money into these assets. There might be some other costs and a waiting time to consider when you convert your money into precious metals, but it is certain that your investments will be protected if at least 10% of your investment portfolio is converted into gold, silver, or platinum, and palladium.
Many think that there is only one way to invest in gold, and that is to buy them. However, there are many ways to invest in it that will also diversify your investment portfolio.
For example, you can choose to invest in stocks for companies that mine precious metals. They might be paper assets, but these stocks are attached to a company that is directly involved in the precious metals industry, which has been performing quite well for years now.
At the same time, you can trade-in your gold for government bills and bonds. What makes these assets unique is that they function as contracts between you and the state. No matter what happens, the government is obligated to return the money to you plus interest after a period has elapsed.
The point is that directly buying gold is not the only way to invest in it. You can consult with a company agent to better understand what options are ideal for you in whatever situation you are in right now.
As was mentioned a while ago, those who invest in gold and other precious metals enjoy certain perks from the IRA. There are two options given to you if you have an IRA, which are Deferment and Deduction. The former allows you to pay your taxes in an accumulated amount at a later date. The latter, on the other hand, is where you will not have to pay a portion of your tax dues for a certain period.
As these are privileges, anyone that is a recipient of either deferment or deduction will have to abide by certain rules and regulations set by the IRS. One example here is your contributions as you are not allowed to transfer more than $6,000.00 of your savings to your IRA for a year. Any excess beyond that amount will be subjected to penalties and withholding tax.
The IRA agent assigned to you is supposed to inform you of what you can or can’t do legally with your IRA. This way, you won’t inadvertently attract the attention of the IRS by committing some form of tax evasion.
Things to be aware of before opening a Gold IRA
While you are still deciding on whether or not to set up an IRA, now would be a good idea to discuss what exactly you can expect from having one in your life. The IRA agent assigned to you might discuss these aspects with you, but you must know what you are getting yourself into. Here are some matters that must be clarified with you before you make a decision.
Fees and Expenses
The first thing that you have to establish here is that an IRA is as much of financial responsibility as it is a privilege. The expenses needed to keep one active for years are something that you should consider even if you can avail of a company’s promotion plans.
You can expect to spend between $100 and $300 for the maintenance of your IRA. There is also the matter of shipping, storage, and transaction costs. The point here is that the exact items for your yearly fees must be broken down for you by the agent you are speaking with. This is only possible if the gold IRA companies you choose to do business with are operating on a high level of transparency towards their customers.
Another matter to discuss is the investment minimums. Essentially, a company will only do business with you if you meet a particular amount for IRA purchases. This baseline can start at as low as $5,000.00 and can reach amounts up to $50,000.00. What this means is that you should have, at the very least, settled all your finances before you even decide to set up an IRA.
No Yield, No Dividends, No Interest
Can you profit from owning gold? The answer is no. Precious metals might be an effective protection against inflation, but they are absolutely terrible when it comes to generating income.
Yes, you can profit from gold but only if you sell it at a higher price at a later date. When it is in your possession, any amount assigned to that gold will not generate some sort of income that you can collect regularly.
What this requires is for you to seriously assess why you want to own gold in the first place. Setting up an IRA is ideal for people who want to protect whatever savings they have. For those that want to have a more dynamic relationship with their money post-retirement (i.e. spending it to earn more), then perhaps other retirement plans are more suitable.
Fraud and Theft
What you have to remember is that anything within public commerce today will attract a lot of attention, especially if they sell well. And if they are that good of a product, that commodity will also attract individuals of the fraudulent or criminal kind.
Counterfeit precious metals have been a thing for centuries now and they are not showing any sign of going away. Your only solution here is to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable buyer. Fortunately, the Best Gold IRA companies are required by law to only sell precious metals within the 99% purity rating.
Another issue here is theft. Depending on your choice, you might not physically possess the gold you own. It will be stored in a depositary facility and moved regularly whenever you make an order. To prevent theft, a good gold IRA company employs the highest level of security for both segregated and non-segregated storage. And if the worst were to happen, these companies should be insured by at least $1 billion. This way, you’d get part of your savings back in case of a serious breach.
Buyers Guide to Investing in a Gold IRA
As of now, we have been discussing the basics of an IRA in great detail. However, there is still one question that needs to be answered: how do you actually sign up for one and how do you use it? Here are a few tips to remember so you would make things easier for yourself.
Speak with a Financial Advisor or Lawyer
Before anything else, you have to understand that your knowledge about IRAs comes from a rather limited perspective. To broaden that perspective a bit further, you should set an appointment with a professional. Lawyers and financial advisors can help you tremendously here as IRAs are included in their fields of expertise.
If you need to know how to qualify for one under the law, you should consult with a lawyer. Also, an attorney can give you advice on how to use and not use your IRA so as not to attract the attention of the IRS. They can also help in drafting documents that will be pertinent to your IRA application.
As for financial advisors, their help revolves around adjusting your lifestyle to meet this new financial obligation. From finding new sources of funding to financial planning, a financial advisor’s help will prevent your IRA from becoming too much of a burden for you in the long run.
Review Current Affairs for Fraud Alerts
Even though scams and frauds are never going away, they are easier to spot now than before. Your best tool in determining if a gold IRA company is trustworthy is by taking a look at what other people are saying about them.
Sites like the Better Business Bureau allow users to post reviews about certain businesses. These reviews are then collated and calculated to produce a score. The BBB, for example, grades businesses from F to A+ with the former being the lowest possible grade and the latter the highest. These grades then indicate just how trustworthy a company is.
It is also crucial to not just look at the individual score given to the company. Instead, take a look at what reviews are saying about them. List down common complaints and praises as these would indicate a shared experience from all reviewers. It is quite impossible to maintain a clean streak with the BBB for a year, let alone a decade. However, some gold IRA companies managed to do so.
Find a Gold IRA Custodian and Establish the IRA
The IRA Company that you choose to do business with will determine how much you can enjoy from your retirement account. Each company has its own set of features, services, promotions, and products. On the flip side, they also have their own set of requirements, especially with the recommended investment minimum for IRA transactions.
When looking for a company, always look for the simplicity of their setup process. Not only should the process be easy enough to understand but the company should offer some sort of guidance through every step. The waiting time for setup, as well as your transactions should not be overly long.
Lastly, you should find a company that can protect not only your gold but also your information. Your client data should not be easily accessed by third-party individuals or given to them directly without your consent. Any company that does that will be seriously violating data privacy laws.
Establish and Fund the IRA
All the gold IRA companies tend to simplify their IRA setup process. So as long as you have the requirements on hand, you should be able to complete the setup within a week or so. And if you are having trouble with the setup, a good IRA Company can provide assistance in securing your documents and communicating with the custodian and depositary of your choice.
Once your IRA has been set up, you then need to fund it. The first option is to fund the account via a lump sum or through regular contributions. The second option is a rollover where the gold IRA company just takes money from any of your existing savings accounts and transfers it to your newly-created retirement account. Some liquidation fees might apply in this option, depending on the company you choose to do business with.
So, which option should you take? The safest answer is to consult with a financial planner first. They would know what payment option would work best for you without straining your finances.
Invest in Precious Metals via the IRA
Buying precious metals for your IRA is a simple process. All that you have to do is to make a call to the company and place your order there. Some of the better companies might offer alternatives to whatever you are ordering to maximize your purchase, but the final decision for the purchase is yours to make.
Once the order is made, you will have to wait a few days for the order to be cleared. If it is cleared, the company can then start shipping the pieces you ordered to the depositary attached to your IRA. At that point, all you have to do is to monitor the value of your purchases.
Gold IRA Rollover
As was previously mentioned, a rollover is your next best option if you don’t have the money to contribute to your IRA. It might even be the most sensible option for many retirement account holders as the entire premise of rollovers is that it transfers whatever money currently exists from your savings accounts into the IRA. In other words, you only have to use whatever money you currently save and not exert the extra effort to produce the lump sum.
A rollover is a fairly simple process. It starts with you filling out an application form and securing whatever document is asked of you. Once your application is submitted, the gold IRA Company will then contact the company managing your savings account. This will initiate the transfer which could take a few days to complete, depending on the situation. If successful, a notice will be given out to all parties that the requested funds have been transferred to the IRA.
401K Gold IRA Rollover
The process of doing a 401K rollover is fairly similar to that of any retirement account rollover. The only difference is that you will be dealing with an account prepared by your employer, not you.
There are two ways to perform this kind of rollover. The first is the most direct one as it involves the standard rollover method where you fill out an application form and the rest of the communications will be handled by the gold IRA companies and the company managing your 401K account.
The other method is a more indirect one. It will involve you applying for a withdrawal from your 401K and then manually depositing the amount to your IRA. This might save you a small amount of money in fees, but there’s a catch: you have to deposit everything to your IRA within 2 months. If you hold on to your money for more than 60 days, the IRS will require you to pay a penalty plus capital gains tax if you were to deposit the amount to your IRA.
5 Things to Look for in a Gold IRA Company
So, which company is the best for you? That is a question that only you can answer based on your needs, budget, and preferences. However, to make things easier on your part, here are 5 points to consider when looking for good gold IRA companies to do business with.
The scores and reviews that a company gets from sites and customers are indicative of the quality of service that they can offer to you. Fortunately, this information is easy to access on the internet, provided that you know where to look for them.
Sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and the Better Business Bureau do collect and aggregate these scores for you. What makes these reviews credible is that they are made by people who have an experience with the company. If you read the supporting information as well, you will get an idea of how the company fares as far as speed, efficiency, customer service, and dispute management are concerned.
As for the overall scores given to the company by these sites, they more or less encapsulate the general user experience when doing business with that company. That means whatever experience you have with these companies will more or less reflect the overall consensus. A good company can maintain a high rating of B to A+ with these review aggregator sites and industry monitors for years on end.
IRA Fee Structure
Much of your expenses with your IRA comes from the yearly maintenance, storage, shipping, and other related transactions. The yearly fees alone could set you back between $200.00 and $300.00, depending on the IRA company that you choose. And aside from the expenses, you should meet the company’s investment minimum, which could go as low as $5,000.00 or as high as $50,000.00.
And since having an IRA is going to be expensive no matter which company you choose to do business with, you are better off choosing a company that is going to be as transparent as possible when disclosing fees. If they tell you that these are the fees that you can expect from them for every transaction and process, then that will be the only fees that you have to pay whenever you do something with your IRA.
At the same time, you might want to ask if they have some promotions given to first-time applicants. There are gold IRA companies right now that either waive the first-year fees or provide you with several precious metals for free. These perks are available if you meet certain conditions like buying more than $10K of precious metals or contributing $50K to your IRA within a month after setup.
Lastly, inquire about the rates for shipping and storage. Some companies use a fixed rate while others utilize a variable system. Either way, you have to choose the one that fits your buying frequency and preferences the most.
Efficiency and Delivery Time
How long must you wait for your orders to be completed? A good Gold IRA company will not let orders remain pending for more than 3 days. The items that the client ordered must be cleared for transfer as quickly as possible to minimize wait times.
Also, the manner of delivery will matter here. A gold IRA company must allow for a safe transfer of assets from one depositary to another as there is absolutely no telling what might happen mid-transit if the gold is poorly secured. The use of armored vehicles, trained security personnel, and multiple layers of protection within a vault should protect these assets from those who are bold enough to make an attempt.
Lastly, the option to ship internationally is welcome. The shipping fee might be more expensive if the company has to ship the gold to another side of the globe. But having the option to ship internationally is far better than having no option at all.
All in all, the company you choose must have a delivery system that is efficient and secured to minimize delays and unwanted circumstances.
Pushy Salesmen or Unfriendly Customer Support
Perhaps the biggest consideration when looking for a gold IRA company is how they will treat you as a paying customer. After all, the services and features offered, as well as the fees, will be roughly the same from company to company. So what an IRA company has to do to stand out is to ensure an excellent customer experience.
For starters, they must not push you to set up an IRA or close a deal. The act of owning an IRA is a major investment decision and a good company will understand that it brings a lot of problems if handled poorly. Thus, the decision to put one up must come from you without any sales-y intervention.
And if you do make a decision to set up an IRA, a good company will continue to treat you well with every transaction. It won’t matter if you are just making a call to inquire or something, or raise an issue. The staff assigned to you must treat you with the utmost respect. If you do feel that you are treated with contempt or backed to a corner where you are forced to make a decision, then your best choice at that instance is to do your business elsewhere.
Other Investment Options Available
Some companies choose to focus on a particular metal or form. For instance, some companies only offer gold and silver, strictly coins, or strictly bullion. And then some offer multiple precious metals in both coin and bullion form.
Whatever the case, the company you choose to do business with should give you options other than what you were looking for. You might get acquainted with a piece that adds value to your collection, and at a price that you can afford.
Of course, all of these have to be done in a manner that is far from pushy. After all, all of these bullions and coins are valuable. It’s up to the investor to make the decision based on the information given to them.
Final Thought – Best Gold IRA Companies
Without a doubt, having an IRA is a fairly huge investment decision to make. The ability to store and own gold to your name is a considerable advantage, but they also come with some obligations that you have to uphold. As such, do you need to do business with an IRA that can offer you the best possible experience?
So, that leaves us with the question: which of the four best gold IRA companies should you choose? Without a doubt, the best option for starters would be Goldco, and here’s why.
When you seriously think about it, all 4 companies are great on their own terms. When you compare their features and services, they do offer the most bang for your buck while still ensuring the best possible outcome for each transaction. But the problem is that none of these features make them stand out from each other.
Where Goldco has a clear edge over the other 3 is in their customer experience. By treating customers well and ensuring that they have access to much-needed help 24/7, the company makes sure that whatever needs you have are attended to in the quickest, most respectful, and most professional manner possible.
Just do remember that a good investment decision takes time. If you need further convincing as to why Goldco is the best option, then there is no harm in looking at other reviews and sources of information. The point is that your choice tends to be more beneficial the more you know about your options before you make a decision.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal were not involved in the creation of this content.