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by Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

Gold individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are like traditional IRAs you can use to invest in precious metals. Read our guide to choose the best gold IRA company for you by comparing minimum investment amounts, annual fees and customer experiences. Our research team vetted 18 gold IRA companies that are rated by more than 3,460 customers.

Our top gold IRA company picks

Historically, gold has been resistant to market volatility and inflation, which means it can be a smart way to diversify your retirement savings. Below, we compare our highest-rated gold IRA companies based on their recent customer reviews, minimum investment amounts and fees.

For more on how we selected our top picks, read our methodology.

Our pick for beginning investorsNoble Gold InvestmentsAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold, silver, platinum and palladium
  • Minimum IRA investment: Undisclosed
  • Annual fees: $80 to $230
  • Year founded: Undisclosed

Noble Gold has ample educational tools available to help new investors. It’s a solid choice for small investors because the fees are a predictable flat rate, including both service and storage costs. Its annual costs are competitive, and there are no setup fees.

“I am a first-time investor and needed guidance. Ben was very helpful and patient with me. He took time to explain the process and answer my questions,” a reviewer in Ohio told us recently.

What to consider: High annual fees if storing in Texas or Delaware; possibly limited services for larger investors

What we like: No setup fees for new accounts, competitive pricing and moderate minimum investment requirement

Our pick for transferring assetsGoldcoAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: $25,000
  • Annual fees: $175 or $225
  • Year founded: 2006

One of Goldco’s strengths is that it provides a lot of useful tools, including investment information and a simple-to-use website. It is relatively easy to get started through its online portal, too.

“I wanted to move the assets in my late Wife's IRA to mine to only pay one storage fee,” a reviewer in Idaho told us. “Everyone I dealt with in all the departments were more than generous with their time to make sure all the paperwork was done right to complete the transfer of the assets went as smooth as possible.”

What to consider: Not as transparent about pricing; limited information about depositories

What we like: Range of account services available; easy online setup; good customer service

Our pick for no-fee IRAsPatriot Gold GroupAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: $15,000
  • Annual fees: Varies
  • Year founded: Undisclosed

While Patriot Gold doesn’t publish much information about its fees online, it does offer a “no fees for life” program for those who meet minimum investment thresholds. So, if you have a sizeable amount to invest, you could save money.

“I rolled over a 401k into a metal IRA with Patriot. Ron talked me through the process and purchase of silver and gold coins and bullion. He was very helpful. Overall, the process was easy, the prices were fair, and I look forward to purchasing more metals through Patriot in the future,” a reviewer in Tennessee said.

What to consider: Lack of info on some fee amounts

What we like: “No fees for life” option; clients work directly with an owner; solid customer service

Our pick for virtual conferencesAugusta Precious Metals
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: $25,000 to $50,000
  • Annual fees: $180
  • Year founded: 2012

Our pick for virtual conferences: Augusta Precious Metals

Augusta Precious Metals has low fees and an informative, easy-to-use website that makes setting up an IRA easy. It also provides a helpful online seminar that can educate you about gold IRAs.

“I was fortunate to partake of an informative conference online. Much was discussed that was very helpful and I may just change my current Silver holder. There was not any sales pressure, I was impressed with the service offered,” a reviewer in Arizona told us.

What to consider: No platinum or palladium investments; cannot purchase online

What we like: Low fees; cash purchases available; lifetime customer support

Our pick for personalized guidanceOxford Gold GroupAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold, silver, platinum and palladium
  • Minimum IRA investment: $7,500
  • Annual fees: $175 or $225
  • Year founded: Undisclosed

Oxford Gold Group is a full-service precious metals dealer. It charges $175 per year for accounts under $100,000 and $225 per year for accounts over $100,000. One of its standout features is the amount of education it provides clients, with some reviewers noting the personalized help they received.

“They kept me well informed and the transactions I needed to make were as smooth as possibly could be. Great value and customer service. In particular, the personal education and guidance they give you is presented so as to give you a clear overall picture of one's assets,” according to a recent reviewer in Ohio.

What to consider: Cannot purchase online; higher fees for larger accounts

What we like: Helpful customer service; cash purchases available; costs are lower for smaller accounts

Our pick for a buyback programAmerican Hartford GoldAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: None
  • Annual fees: Varies
  • Year founded: Undisclosed

American Hartford Gold is a family-owned company based in California, though it provides services throughout the U.S. The company offers gold IRAs and direct delivery of precious metal investments. One thing that helps this company stand out is its buyback commitment, which can make it easier to liquidate your investments when the time comes.

“American Hartford told me exactly what would happen, and it happened the way they saw it. Everything was good. If I buy some more, I will buy from them,” a reviewer in Arkansas said.

What to consider: Somewhat opaque fees; cannot purchase online

What we like: Helpful customer service; buyback commitment; no IRA minimum

Our pick for low feesOrion Metal ExchangeAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold, silver and platinum
  • Minimum IRA investment: $5,000
  • Annual fees: Free storage for up to 3 years
  • Year founded: 2017

Orion Metal Exchange is a full-service gold investment company with a devoted in-house IRA group to help investors with creating and managing their accounts. There are no setup or transfer fees associated with this account, and you can get up to three years of free precious metal storage from promotional offers.

“We decided to put a little bit into the precious metals market as an investment and Orion had the best deal for a small investor,” a reviewer in Texas said. “Overall, Orion was helpful and probably the best value.”

What to consider: $10,000 minimum for online purchases; limited fee information

What we like: Low minimum investment; free storage for up to 3 years; educated IRA department

Our pick for quick rolloversLear Capital
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: Undisclosed
  • Annual fees: $160
  • Year founded: 1997

Lear Capital has a relatively long history of providing precious metal investments. It provides solid benefits, including a no-fee buyback program. Its low $160 annual fee covers storage, insurance and quarterly financial statements. Financial advisors are available for those who are new and looking for support as well.

“I am happy with the service I have received from Lear Capital. I know they gave their best effort to get me the best deals possible for the precious metals in my IRA accounts. The process for transferring funds into the accounts and purchasing the precious metals was quick and easy,” a reviewer in South Carolina said.

What to consider: Undisclosed account minimum; limited web capabilities

What we like: Fast customer service, low fees and long history in the industry

Our pick for customer serviceAdvantage GoldAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold, silver, platinum and palladium
  • Minimum IRA investment: $5,000
  • Annual fees: $175
  • Year founded: 2014

Advantage Gold has a low minimum investment of $5,000 and an easy-to-understand fee structure. The company also has numerous resources to help beginners get started. These features make it particularly beneficial to first-time investors who may be looking for an easy setup process. Advantage Gold also offers a buyback program that lets you sell back your gold at the current market rate.

“Even though I was making a small purchase by comparison to other investors, they treated me with extreme patience and consideration,” a reviewer in Oregon said. “Finis was also fun to talk to, and helped settle my nervousness with his wisdom, yet without being pushy.”

What to consider: No online purchases; no online prices for coins

What we like: Low minimum investment, low fees and good customer service

Our pick for a low minimum investmentRed Rock SecuredAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: $1,500
  • Annual fees: Varies
  • Year founded: 2008

Red Rock Secured is a solid option if you’re looking for a gold IRA company. While it does have a minimum investment requirement, it’s low enough that many investors won’t be bothered by it. Fees can range from $125 to $300 per year, but the company claims that 90% of its clients pay “zero fees for life.”

“They were able to explain at a level I could understand the options and alternatives available to me investing in gold and silver,” according to a reviewer in Florida. “Since purchase, their staff has been responsive and enjoyable to work with.”

What to consider: Website is somewhat limited; no online prices for coins

What we like: Low minimum investment, low fees available and a “zero fees for life” program

Our pick for an easy processMonetary GoldAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold and silver
  • Minimum IRA investment: $5,000 to $10,000
  • Annual fees: $100 and up
  • Year founded: 2000

Monetary Gold offers both retirement and nonretirement investments. The minimum investment for one of its IRAs depends on the custodian you choose, and its fees are $100 per year for accounts up to $100,000 plus a $1 fee for every extra $1,000 of gold. Verified reviewers were also happy with how simple Monetary Gold made the IRA setup process.

“Not only did they walk me through the process of setting up a precious metals IRA but they handled all of the paperwork and made the process so easy!” a customer in California told us.

What to consider: No online purchases; fees are higher for larger accounts

What we like: Long history in the industry; informative and patient staff; transparent pricing

Our pick for helpful staffBirch Gold GroupAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • IRA metals: Gold, silver, platinum and palladium
  • Minimum IRA investment: $10,000
  • Annual fees: $180
  • Year founded: 2003

Birch Gold Group offers a variety of IRA-eligible precious metals. Its IRA minimums and fees are posted on its website, including a $50 setup fee. Reviews also highlight its helpful customer service.

“I bought from the Birch Gold group a few months ago for my IRA. In my opinion, they are an excellent organization, the cream of the crop,” a customer in Arizona said. “Mr. Gordon … could not have been a nicer person to deal with. He was attentive to my needs and did not let a question go unanswered.”

What to consider: You may need to pay more to work with investment advisors; no online prices for coins

What we like: Fixed annual fees, good customer service and lots of support and education on its website

Compare Top Gold IRA Company Reviews

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    Gold and other precious metal IRAs are an investment and carry risk. Consumers should be alert to claims that customers can make a lot of money in these or any investment with little risk. As with any investment, you can lose money and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance results. Consumers should also obtain a clear understanding of the fees associated with any investment before agreeing to invest.

    What is a gold IRA?

    A gold IRA is a self-directed individual retirement account that holds gold or other approved metals instead of paper assets. Unlike other retirement accounts, a gold IRA is backed by actual, physical gold. Other than this crucial difference, a gold IRA is not much different from a traditional or Roth IRA.

    With a gold IRA, you don’t hold the gold yourself — it’s stored in a secure depository. (If you want to buy gold directly and hold it yourself, you can buy it from a gold dealer.) Still, there are some risks. While gold has historically held its value during inflation, it can be volatile in the short term.

    How does a gold IRA work?

    Gold IRAs function much like traditional retirement accounts, but your investments are in gold and other precious metals, including silver, platinum and palladium. Many people start a gold IRA with $10,000 or more, but gold IRA companies often sell physical gold to those who can’t afford a large initial investment. If you have enough to start a gold IRA, your gold is stored in a secure storage facility managed by the gold IRA company.

    You usually have to pay penalties if you withdraw funds before age 59½.

    There’s more involved in setting up a gold IRA than depositing money into it, though. A brokerage firm buys the precious metals that are in your IRA. The custodian, or trustee, then sets up and manages the account. Potential custodians include banks, credit unions, trust companies, loan associations or other organizations with federal or state approval. The IRS also lets you hold gold in ETFs or mutual funds.

    1. Transfer funds into the account. Most gold IRA companies have a required initial minimum investment. This can be as high as $50,000, but it typically ranges from $2,000 to $5,000. Be sure you’re aware of a company’s account minimum. You have the option to buy precious metals with pre-tax or post-tax dollars.
      After your initial rollover, you’ll have to stay within annual contribution limits. For 2021, the annual contribution limit set by the IRS is $6,000 or, for those over 50, $7,000. Your contributions also can’t be lower than your taxable compensation for the year.
    2. Pay commissions and fees. Brokerage firms and dealers charge commissions when they sell precious metals. Additional fees associated with gold IRAs include:
      • Setup fees: Gold IRA companies typically charge a one-time processing fee for setting up your gold IRA. This can range from $50 to $100.
      • Storage fees: The depositories that hold your gold charge a yearly fee, and your gold IRA administrator passes this expense onto you. Most gold IRA holders pay $100 to $300 per year for storage and insurance.
      • Annual maintenance fee: Maintenance fees can be anywhere from $50 to $300 per year, but this is often included in your storage fee. Some gold IRA companies waive the first year of maintenance fees but not all.
      • Miscellaneous fees: The company you work with should disclose any additional charges, including wire transfer fees, when you open your account.
    3. Withdraw your cash at the appropriate time. When you want to access your money, contact your custodian or trustee and fill out the necessary forms. You may have to pay penalty taxes if you withdraw funds before the age of 59½ or if you haven’t had the account for a certain amount of time.

      However, once you reach the age of 72 (or 70½ if you reached that age before January 1, 2020), you’re subject to required minimum distributions, which means you must withdraw a certain amount from your IRA(s) each year.

    Gold investment tips

    If you want to invest in gold as part of your retirement plan, here are some tips for navigating the world of gold IRAs.

    Choose a company that completes transactions honestly and transparently. Avoid companies that advertise “special” home storage offers or “collectible” coins that aren’t approved by the IRS.
    • Read gold IRA reviews: Spend time reading online reviews from clients to learn more about their experience with the gold investment company. Some scammers can appear legitimate, so it’s vital to consider how many years a company has been in business and what reviewers say about it.
    • Work with a dedicated advisor: An experienced gold investment advisor is familiar with your existing portfolio and can provide personal advice based on your financial goals. If you’re new to gold IRAs, consider working with a smaller company that can help you find your footing before exploring your precious metal investment options.
    • Consider the depository: According to IRS regulations, only approved precious metals can be stored in allocated or unallocated depositories. Most gold IRA companies let you choose which kind of vault you prefer, whether domestic or offshore.
      • Allocated depositories: In an allocated depository, your precious metal inventory is kept in something like a safety deposit box. The box contains the actual coins or bullion you purchased. Your gold is your gold, and it’s all in your box, where it can’t touch anybody else’s gold.
      • Unallocated depositories: Unallocated depositories store their inventories of precious metals based on size, weight year and refinery. When distributed, investors receive the same type of coin or bar they purchased, but it probably won’t be the same physical object.
    Unlike stocks, bonds and traditional assets, gold is a tangible commodity, and the condition and quality of your gold factors into its worth as an investment. Disreputable brokers buy damaged metals and resell them at the price of pristine stock, so check the gold quality before purchasing. Precious metals are valued by their weight, so scratched or damaged bars and coins are less valuable than they would be in as-new condition. You should only accept the stock if it weighs what the manufacturer intended. Gold, silver, platinum and palladium are eligible to be placed in an IRA.
    • Gold: Gold bullion and coins are the most popular investment when it comes to precious metals. The Internal Revenue Code requires gold to have a minimum fineness of 0.995 (99.5%) to be eligible.
    • Silver: Silver is the second-most common type of precious metal used in IRAs after gold. It needs to have a minimum fineness of 0.999 (99.9%).
    • Platinum: Platinum can be stored in coin or bar form and must meet a 0.9995 (99.95%) purity level to qualify for IRA storage.
    • Palladium: Palladium needs a minimum fineness of 0.9995 (99.95%).
    Like other commodities, the price of precious metals is determined by the market. The price of gold goes through fluctuations associated with other markets. Although more constant, gold prices still go up and down. The market values of gold, silver and precious metals fluctuate regularly, which means that posted sales prices need to be updated frequently.
    Vault receipts, sometimes called warrant or warehouse receipts, prove the ownership of your precious metal commodities and confirm transfers. Detailed receipts are necessary to prove or disprove the true value of any precious metals that have been sold or purchased, especially at the date and time of purchase.
    Rare and collectible gold coins offer unique investment opportunities, but their worth and legitimacy must be checked. As mentioned above, the IRS has specific requirements for what types of gold bullion are acceptable to be held in a gold IRA. Read about the IRS rules for individual retirement arrangements and retirement plan investments for more information.

    Gold IRA pros and cons

    Investing in a gold IRA has many of the same risks as any retirement account. Perhaps the most significant benefit of a gold IRA is it allows you to diversify your retirement portfolio. Proponents of gold IRA investments tout the reliable value of gold relative to paper assets in times of economic uncertainty. While gold prices have their own potential for volatility, they’re often not harmed by trends affecting paper assets.

    How much precious metals are worth on any given day depends on a variety of economic factors, including industrial demand, production supply, the value of the dollar and the overall market health. Historically, gold has increased in value during times of long-term inflation or economic uncertainty.

    Opponents of gold IRAs don’t like the higher fees and storage costs compared to traditional or Roth IRAs. Gold and silver assets also don’t pay dividends or produce steady income. Plus, there are rules about holding collectible coins, and you can’t keep your gold in your house.

    Pros

    • Portfolio diversification
    • Long-term potential
    • Liquidity
    • Hedges against inflation

    Cons

    • Higher fees
    • No bank guarantee
    • Minimum deposit requirements
    • Tax penalties for early distribution

    Gold IRA questions

    How rare is gold?
    It depends on what measurement you use. On a geological scale, there’s less gold in the earth’s crust (0.004 parts per million) than there is platinum (0.005 ppm) or silver (0.075 ppm).

    However, gold has been mined for thousands of years, so there’s a fair bit on the market at any given time, especially relative to how much new gold is being introduced.

    A depository is a location where gold is stored, often run by a third party dedicated to keeping clients’ gold secure.
    Gold IRA costs vary, but you might have to pay a $50 to $100 setup fee and annual fees of $80 to $300.
    All investments have risk, and gold is a physical asset, so there is always the chance of theft. However, making sure your gold is stored in a legitimate depository helps keep it safe. Do your research and be sure the depository where your precious metals are stored meets IRS standards.
    Supplementing your portfolio with gold can be a good choice, but you probably shouldn’t put your entire retirement plan into a gold IRA. Gold investments are a way to hedge your bets against inflation, but they won’t pay dividends like stocks.
    What is a gold IRA rollover?
    A gold IRA rollover allows investors to move their retirement savings into a gold IRA. Brokers that facilitate rollovers perform the task and keep your initial investments tax-free. Most brokers offer no-fee rollovers, but ask if you aren't sure of their rules. You can roll over the following types of retirement accounts:
    • Roth IRAs
    • Traditional IRAs
    • SEP or SIMPLE IRAs
    • 401(k)s or 403(b)s
    • Pension plans
    • TSPs (Thrift Savings Plans)
    • Annuity plans
    No, you can’t take physical possession of gold in your IRA. It must be stored in an IRS-approved facility or bank. You could be subject to high penalties if you store gold from your IRA in your home. At the end of your IRA term, you can liquidate your gold assets for cash or take possession of your gold without penalty, though.
    Not all IRAs can be used to invest in gold. You need a self-directed IRA if you want to purchase gold or other precious metals with it.
    Yes. You can keep a traditional IRA and also open a self-directed IRA for gold or other precious metals.
    Unfortunately, no. Even if your gold or other precious metal meets purity guidelines determined by the IRS, adding gold you currently possess to your IRA goes against IRS regulations. Like other IRAs, gold IRAs require custodians to manage the accounts, including the handling of gold.
    Gold must meet specific standards set by the IRS to be eligible for use in a gold IRA. Eligible gold products meet minimum fineness requirements of 99.5% purity, are not considered highly collectible and come from a U.S. mint or an approved foreign mint.

    Bottom line

    Gold IRA companies are plentiful, so it is critical to choose a company with competitive prices, good customer service and an easy investment process. Many companies in this industry are similar, but the best stand out for their professionalism and transparency.

    Methodology

    To narrow down the companies listed on this guide, we first considered customer reviews and ratings. All of our top picks have an overall satisfaction rating above 3.5 stars. We also required companies to have at least twice as many 5-star reviews as 1-star reviews over the last year (June 15, 2020, through June 15, 2021). The ConsumerAffairs research team also considered the availability and online experience when selecting top picks.

    Article sources

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
    1. Internal Revenue Service, “Traditional and Roth IRAs.” Accessed July 23, 2021.

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      Gold IRA reviews

      AUTHORIZED PARTNER
      Noble Gold Investments

      This company helps you invest in a precious metals IRA or buy precious metals directly. It even maintains and administers your account. Setting up an IRA takes less than five minutes. IRA transfers for 401(k), 403(b), Roth, TRA or TSA accounts take about 48 hours.

      • Storage options: You can back your IRA with gold, silver, platinum or palladium. The company stores all precious metals with International Depository Services. A segregated storage option is also available.
      • Costs: Noble Gold charges an annual fee of $80, plus $150 per year if you store gold in Texas or Delaware.
      • Minimum investment: To invest with Noble Gold, you need to invest at least $2,000.
      • Additional benefits: You can open a precious metal IRA or buy precious metals directly from Noble Gold. It also has a buyback program if you decide to sell your gold and offers a free gold IRA guide with information for investors on how to roll over your existing retirement account into a gold IRA.
      Read 391 Reviews
      AUTHORIZED PARTNER
      Red Rock Secured

      This company lets you open up a precious metals IRA or purchase precious metals directly for home storage. You can complete most transactions online.

      • Storage options: You can invest in gold, silver, platinum or palladium for your IRA or purchase precious metals directly.
      • Costs: Storage fees range from $125 to $300 per year, but the company waives fees for most customers.
      • Minimum investment: You need at least $1,500 in your gold IRA to invest with Red Rock Secured.
      • Additional benefits: If you opt to purchase precious metals instead of investing in a gold IRA, Red Rock delivers the precious metals directly to your home. Resources on the company’s website can help you decide the best path forward.
      Read 95 Reviews
      United Gold Direct

      Besides gold IRAs, this company sells precious metals directly, including special gold and silver coins. Its staff inspects the precious metals to make sure they are of high quality.

      Regal Assets

      This company lets you roll over or convert your existing retirement account into a gold IRA. It also has shipping for direct investments and a buyback policy. One of its most popular gold investments is 10-ounce, 99.99% pure gold bars from the Swiss National Bank with an embossed finish.

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      Compare Top Gold IRA Company Reviews

      by Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

      Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.

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