If you're considering making a gold IRA investment, this guide is where you should begin. Read on to make an informed decision on whether to accumulate a gold retirement portfolio.

What is a gold IRA?

A gold IRA is a self-directed individual retirement account (IRA) that holds physical gold assets such as bars or coins. Retirement savings are possible through tax-advantaged accounts called IRAs. Investors may apply either pre-tax or post-tax funds to establish a gold IRA.

How do I get started with investing?

It’s more challenging to set up a self-directed gold IRA and invest in gold than open a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Here are the steps you'll need to accomplish:

Step 1: Pick the Custodian for your Self-Directed IRA

A custodian is in charge of your self-directed IRA. Banks, trust firms, and other institutions that received Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approval can act as custodians (IRS). Through self-directed IRA custodians, investors can invest in investment options, such as precious metals and real estate.

Step 2: Choosing a precious metals company

Find a gold IRA company that suits your needs and then instruct the IRA custodian to transfer funds to the company so they can invest in your gold. Get our step-by-step guide here.

Do your own research before deciding on a dealer and using your IRA funds to purchase gold or other precious metals. To assist you with your search, look for a dealer who is a member of trade organizations for the sector, such as the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), or American Numismatic Association (ANA). Besides, your IRA custodian could have connections with specific sellers; still, you should always do your due diligence to ensure their credibility.

Step 3: Choose the products you'll purchase.

If you want help in deciding what to purchase, you can consult with the dealer or an expert. Popular options include the U.S. Mint's Saint Gaudens Double Eagle, American Gold Eagle, and Indian Head Gold Eagle.

Step 4: Decide on a Depository

You cannot keep gold for your IRA in storage by yourself. A self-directed IRA's gold or other precious metal investments must be kept in an IRS-approved depository, like the Delaware Depository. 

You can choose a depository on your own as long as it complies with the rules of the Internal Revenue Code, though your IRA custodian may recommend one.

Step 5: Finish the transaction

You can finish your purchase once you have a custodian, dealer, and depository. 

The dealer will ship your gold to the depository, and the IRA custodian will manage the payments. 

A gold IRA may also contain other precious metals, alternative investments like annuities or cryptocurrency, or regular investments like stocks and bonds. The account must commit at least a portion of its holdings to physical gold to be considered a "gold IRA."

How do you differentiate between a rollover and a transfer?

A rollover or a transfer are the two ways investors can fund a gold IRA. Transferring funds between retirement savings accounts is a safer and more risk-adjusted method. Investors need to know all the requirements and restrictions related to rolling over their gold IRAs. If an investor violates these regulations, they may incur steep IRS fines. Conversely, there are fewer limitations on transfers than rollovers.

Transferring money from one custodian to another institution is the purpose of a gold IRA transfer, often called a "gold IRA transfer." The account doesn't get any of the money taken out of it. Instead, money is exchanged directly between third parties without the account holder engaging in the process. The custodians take care of everything, making it a seamless method for the account holder.

A transfer involves moving funds from a single account between two institutions, whereas a rollover is moving money from one kind of account to another account.

Because an IRA gold transfer reduces the margin for human error, it is preferred by many. It’s easy to unintentionally cause problems with a rollover, for example, by neglecting to transfer the distributed cash into your new account before the IRS-imposed deadline passes. The IRS could impose a sizable financial penalty for failure to comply. But since your account custodian takes care of the transfer automatically, gold IRA transactions are not subject to this oversight.

What is the paperwork required for a gold IRA?

After choosing your company, you'll need to fill out the paperwork to open your IRA and fund it. Transferring money from a 401(k) or any other IRA requires information. The essential information necessary to open an account on banking or investment platforms are:

  • Government-issued photo identification proof, like a driver's license.
  • Social security number for ID proof.
  • Usually, a bank account number and routing number are required to fund the account.
  • If relevant, the name and address of your employer.
  • Beneficiary details.

What are the types of gold IRAs?

Gold IRAs come in three categories: Tradicional, Roth, and SEP.

Each has unique guidelines and benefits.

Types of Gold IRAs

Traditional gold IRA

Traditional gold IRAs accept pre-tax contributions, allowing you to invest and see your money grow tax-deferred. Retirement withdrawals are subject to taxation in the same way as other sources of income.

Gold Roth IRA

A Roth gold IRA offers tax advantages, like any other investment portfolio. Your contributions are funded by post-tax funds that are exempt from regular income taxes until they are used to support retirement distributions, during which they are subject to the relevant taxes.

SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) gold IRA

Contributions to a SEP are limited to 25% or the lesser standard IRA contribution limit. It is a good savings plan if you work for a smaller enterprise or are self-employed, 

Subsequently, you will only get taxed when you withdraw from this account at the time of retirement.

What are the benefits of gold IRAs?

Sustainability and financial security

Because it can be challenging to forecast the economy, having gold in your retirement savings plan offers protection and reliability. Due to its inflation-proof nature, a gold IRA can also protect you from price increases.

Unrestricted growth

Be aware that you don't have to pay taxes on any gains when holding gold in a traditional IRA or 401(k).


Your investment portfolio is more diversified with gold, which can help decrease risk.

Protection from volatility

The stock market can be volatile, as we've seen in recent years. Safeguard yourself from such volatility by including gold holdings in your retirement funds.

Control and freedom

You will have more freedom and control over your investment choices with gold IRAs because they are self-directed, especially with how you manage your money.

Excellent profit potential

You may have heard that gold and other rare metals provide an excellent hedge against deflation or inflation. 

Gold can have its fluctuations, too. But if you look at the historical performance of precious metals, especially gold, you'll see that their prices show a long-term trend of consistent growth. Hence, it may be a prudent decision to retain your gold IRA for a long time.

What are the risks involved with a gold IRA?

  • No tax benefits 

    There are no returns on gold bullion. It does not benefit from the tax-free growth component of IRA investing. Only capital gains from selling your gold at a profit qualify for a tax benefit.

  • Zero Yields
    In contrast to paper-backed assets, gold does not pay interest, dividends, or yields. Nevertheless, comparatively the benefits of stocks and bonds have accompanying risks: any minor interest gains and your savings may be lost.
  • Significant expenses 

    Gold cannot be stored at home or in a safe deposit box at a bank. Instead, you must pay a custodian to purchase, ship, transport, store, and insure the precious metals you keep in your IRA. Generally speaking, the custodian fees for gold IRAs are higher when compared to those for traditional IRAs.

    On the other hand, the market for this kind of investment instrument is already quite developed. Between the time Congress established the gold IRA in 1997 and the financial crisis in 2008, fewer companies offered this sort of account, and the cost was more than a standard IRA. Gold IRA demand and gold prices increased dramatically during the Great Recession. As more businesses began to provide precious metals IRAs, the process became simplified, and prices dropped dramatically.

  • Financial limitations

    It’s not permitted to transfer any precious metals that you already own into your gold IRA or buy precious metals individually and add them to your IRA. All transactions must be handled by a custodian on your behalf.

  • Scam or theft 

    Purchasing actual gold and silver carries the potential danger of fraud and theft. Nonetheless, depositories that meet the requirements to retain precious metals for IRA accounts are supposed to be insured. 

    The potential of custodians stealing from their clients is another concern. But this threat can be reduced by picking a custodian that protects all financial activities through insurance.

How to find the right firm or custodian?

Since selecting a company to work with is a task many brokerage firms don't provide, this might be challenging.

Look for the following:


By being fully informed up front, you can avoid unpleasant surprises like unanticipated charges after you invest.


Look for a business that has earned excellent scores from unbiased institutions like the Trustpilot, Better Business Bureau, or the Business Consumer Alliance. Check what customers have to say about the business, particularly complaints made.


Since each investor has unique wants and objectives, you should pick a firm that will work with you rather than take a general approach.


A licensed, certified, and insured business will sufficiently protect you. You must request confirmation of licenses and other details.

What are the charges and expenses of holding a gold IRA?

There are additional costs associated with holding gold in a gold IRA. These include:

Vendor payment – Markup

Even though gold has a market price, there are markups depending on whether you purchase gold bullion, coins, proofs, etc. It is a one-time cost, and the markup can differ from vendor to vendor. When an investor needs to sell, each gold type has particular requirements.

Setup of a retirement account

You must pay this one-time fee to open your new IRA account. It also varies by institution, but since not all financial services companies work with gold IRAs, it can cost more than the typical startup fee.

Custodian charges

Once more, although you would incur annual fees and any related asset or transaction fees with all IRAs, they could be higher for this kind of account. It especially applies if you go to a different financial institution than the one that manages your other accounts.

Storage costs

A qualified storage institution charges storage fees and holds the gold.

Cash-out expenses

A qualified storage institution charges storage fees and holds the gold.

Cash-out expenses

Selling your gold to a third-party dealer to close out a gold IRA will result in a lower price from the dealer than what it would fetch on the open market. Therefore, unless prices have increased since you purchased it, you could lose some money.

In contrast to opening and closing regular IRAs, certain IRA businesses will promise to buy back the gold from you at existing wholesale prices. But you can still incur losses if you close the account.

Key Takeaways

  • Since gold IRAs are not traded on a public exchange and need specialized knowledge to evaluate, they are known as "alternative investments."
  • Gold IRAs often have higher costs than traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs that only invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Although focused on a single asset class, a gold IRA can be a solid inflation hedge.
  •  Assets from individual retirement accounts are transferred upon death to the designated beneficiaries, often the deceased person's spouse.
  • Within 10 years of the original owner's passing, non-spousal beneficiaries of an inherited IRA must make complete withdrawals from the account.
  • You cannot store the gold in a gold IRA in your house safe, a safety deposit box, or any location other than an IRS-approved depository.
  • Consult a financial professional to evaluate your portfolio goals. Placing all your assets in one basket is generally never a wise move.

About the author Greg Lorenzo

Greg is a financial expert who has been advising his audience on loans for over 10 years. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area, and he is passionate about helping people get the best possible deal on their loans. Greg is an expert in negotiating loans, and he has a proven track record of getting his clients the best possible terms. He is also a strong advocate for financial literacy, and he regularly gives workshops and seminars on the topic.

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