The Definitive Gold IRA Rollover Guide

March 31, 2022

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Are you interested in investing in precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and palladium for retirement? If so, you may want to consider a gold IRA rollover.

In recent years, we’re seeing more Americans turn to gold and silver as safe-haven investments. This is due to any number of economic challenges we’re currently facing such as record-breaking inflation, geopolitical turmoil, and reckless government spending. 

If you know you want to diversify your investments into gold and silver, but don’t know how to get started, read on. 

We’ve included everything you need to know about gold IRAs as well as gold IRA rollovers in this comprehensive and all-encompassing guide! 

Gold IRA Rollover Guide - Everything You Need To Know

We’ll go over every detail you need to consider in this gold IRA rollover guide so you’re informed when you start the process. 

We’ll cover: 

  • Physical gold IRA rollover process
  • How to find a gold IRA rollover company (and our recommended gold dealers)
  • Planning for the future (beneficiaries)
  • Types of physical precious metals your can hold
  • And give you some great gold IRA rollover tips to get you on your way!

If you want to skip this long guide and go straight to our number recommended gold IRA rollover company, check out Augusta Precious Metals:

augusta logo
  • Highest rated, most trusted gold IRA company
  • Best education and customer service
  • A+ BBB rating and 5/5 Trust Link Rating
  • We gave Augusta Precious Metals 5/5 Stars

What’s a Gold IRA? 

An IRA is an “individual retirement account”. 

A gold IRA or “precious metals IRA” is just how we refer to an IRA that’s used to purchase precious metals. More specifically, it’s a self-directed individual retirement account (SDIRA).

A self-directed IRA allows you the option to diversify your retirement into ‘alternative assets’ not typically available with traditional retirement plans. 

SDIRAs allow you to buy physical metals, cryptocurrencies, real estate, and even small businesses with the tax benefits of a retirement account. 

A gold IRA works the same way as a traditional IRA except that it uses gold instead of paper assets. It’s one of the best choices for someone who wants to invest in gold and also take advantage of the tax benefits of an IRA..

gold ira

What’s A Gold Ira Rollover? 

A gold IRA rollover is when you move your retirement account to a self-directed precious metals IRA that holds gold at your chosen depository. 

The depository must be approved by the IRS and you can hold other types of precious metals as well.

Gold IRA Rollover Qualifying Accounts  

Most retirement accounts can qualify for a gold IRA rollover - you don’t need to have an IRA to rollover to a gold IRA. If you have an IRA like a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k), a 403(b), a 457(b) or a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), your account may be qualified for a gold IRA rollover. 

IRAs 

If you have an existing IRA such as a traditional or Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, Self-Directed IRA, then you’re qualified for a gold IRA rollover.

401(k)

If you have an inactive 401(k) and are no longer working with the company where you created that 401(k), you’re qualified for a gold IRA rollover. If you have a 401(k) with your current empower and are above the age of 59.5 years, you might be eligible for a partial gold IRA rollover.

More reading: Rollover 401k To  Gold IRA Guide

403(b)

If you have a 403(b), you’re qualified for a complete gold IRA rollover if you’ve been terminated from employment. If you have a 403(b), are still working and are over the age 59.5 years of age, you might be qualified for a partial gold IRA rollover. 

457(b)

If you have a 457(b), you’re qualified for a gold IRA rollover if your employment has been terminated. With a few steps, you can rollover your 457(b) to a precious metals IRA.

TSP

If you have a TSP, you’re qualified for a gold IRA rollover if your employment has been terminated. If you have a TSP and are still working, you might be eligible for a partial gold IRA rollover if you’re above the age of 59.5 years of age. 

Other Retirement Accounts

Most traditional retirement accounts can accomodate a gold IRA rollover or precious metals rollover, you just need to get in touch with the company that operates your account and ask if you qualify. 

What Are The Fees Involved With A Gold Ira?  

When you buy precious metals for your new IRA, you’re going to notice that your costs are going to be higher than with digital transactions. 

This is because you’re buying actual precious metals that have storage fees and need to be moved as well as insured. Unlike buying shares of a gold fund or an ETF, you actually own physical gold with a gold IRAs.

You have sole ownership of the gold you buy with a gold IRA and have to eat the extra costs of owning real gold. 

However, you also own a tangible asset instead of a paper investment so it evens out depending on your preferences.  

In the table below, you can find most of the typical gold IRA Rollover fees you will encounter with your new gold IRA provider:

Typical Gold IRA Rollover Fees

Account Setup Fees:

$50+

Annual Storage Fees:

$50 - $200

Insurance Fees:

$100+

Transaction Fees:

$25+

Buy Back Fees:

Depends on your dealer

Sales Commissions:

Some dealers might add commissions on sales

What About Taxes? 

It is NOT a taxable event when you transfer your existing IRA to your new self-directed account. 

This is because you are moving your funds between two qualified, tax-deferred plans. 

This also applies when you do a gold IRA rollover from your 401(k), 403(b), 457 (b) or TSP (and most other retirement investing accounts).  

Gold IRAs also work like most other retirement accounts, and are tax-advantaged for most transactions.

Gold IRA Performance Over Time

Gold IRAs and gold investments have performed quite well over long periods of time because the price of gold has steadily been rising over time. 

See below for a graph of gold performance over 100 years

gold performance 100 years

Chart image provided by MacroTrends.net - historical gold prices 100 year chart

The average annual return for gold since 1971 to 2019 has been about 10.61% (source), with the average annual returns in 2020 hitting 24.6%. 

That’s much more than a regular savings account and easily is enough to beat inflation with some interest left over. 

Gold and silver’s performance isn’t anything magical, and while there are significant downturn periods, over long time horizons they have steadily risen.

Having a self directed retirement fund that has investments in gold or silver is actually a great way to diversify outside of stocks and bonds. 

Even if you don’t end up starting a new precious metals IRA account, buying some gold bullion bars, or other precious metals might be a good idea.

Can You Take Possession Of Your Metals With A Checkbook IRA?  

No, you can’t because it breaks certain rules and regulations set by the IRS. 

Making sure your every single move is IRS approved is extremely important.

While you’ll always have access to the precious metals that you’ve purchased, it’s a taxable event every time that you take a distribution from an IRA account that’s not a Roth. 

You’ll also be subjected to a 10% penalty if you withdraw early, before you’re 59.5 years of age.

Read more: Home Storage Gold IRA

How Do You Rollover Your Current Retirement Account Into A Precious Metals Ira? 

how to rollover to a gold IRA

The rollover process involved with transferring your current retirement account into a precious metals IRA is different depending on your current situation.

But regardless of what your current retirement account is, your first step is to establish a self-directed IRA with a custodian that will let you hold physical precious metals. 

Your chosen precious metals dealer will most likely be authorized and have a few custodians for you to choose from. 

They’ll also be likely to help you complete any paperwork that needs to be done to ensure smooth processing, and some - like Augusta Precious Metals - can even waive the fees depending on several factors.

Next, you’ll need to decide which kind of rollover suits your needs.

Direct Rollover Transfers   

With a direct rollover, your funds will be automatically transferred from your current retirement account into your gold IRA. 

Your old retirement account will then be closed and the manager of your old account will send your current amount to your gold IRA’s trustee or custodian. 

Indirect Rollover Transfers

WIth an indirect rollover, you take your money out of your current retirement account yourself, and then fund your new gold IRA. 

It’s important to note that you have 60 days from the day that you receive funds from your old custodian to transfer the funds to your new self-directed gold IRA custodian.

Failing to transfer funds within 60 days can result in hefty taxes and penalties. The IRS may consider it a taxable withdrawal. 

If you’re doing an indirect gold IRA rollover, make sure to move quickly and avoid these taxes.

Gold IRA Distributions - What You Need To Know

There are several factors to consider when planning a distribution from your gold IRA.

RMD stands for “Required Minimum Distribution”. 

It’s the minimum amount that you need to withdraw annually from your account once you reach the age of 72. The old age threshold was 70.5 years of age but it’s currently 72. 

Every retirement account except for Roths are subjected to RMDs. 

Your custodian will give you the minimum amount you need to withdraw every year once you hit 72 years of age

Your custodian calculates your RMD by dividing the previous year’s account balance on the 31st December by a distribution period from the IRS’s Uniform Lifetime Table.  

With gold IRAs, you have the options of a cash RMD or an “in-kind distribution”. 

An in-kind distribution in this case means that your precious metals will be shipped to you. 

If you choose to get a cash RMD, your custodian will most likely send you ACH payments for free and on a timeline that you set. It varies from custodian to custodian though. 

How Do You Choose Your New Custodian?  

choose a gold IRA custodian

Not every custodian offers physical precious metals accounts. 

You need to do your own research to choose a self-directed IRA custodian that specializes in gold IRA accounts, however most precious metals dealers will provide recommended custodians to you to make your choice easier. 

Custodians that offer physical precious metals accounts usually charge a flat fee or a scaling fee based on the size of your account. In most cases, flat fees are more cost-effective and are the better choice.

Planning For The Future

When creating your gold IRA rollover strategy, you’ll need to plan for the future, and that includes designating your beneficiary, and assigning a representative party or interested party. 

Designating Beneficiaries 

As with regular retirement accounts, your gold IRA will need one or more beneficiaries. 

You can designate any person or entity as long as your primary residence is not in a community property state. You can also designate the percentage that your beneficiary will inherit when you pass away.  

If you do live in a community property state, you need your spouse to sign a waiver if you want to designate anyone else as a primary beneficiary.  

Popular beneficiary choices besides spouses are usually your children, your grandchildren or your favorite charity. These choices are also popular as contingent beneficiaries should your primary beneficiary pass away as well. 

For every beneficiary that you choose, you need to give your custodian their full name, their social security number as well as their date of birth. 

Remember that you can change your beneficiaries at any point in time by submitting a form.

Assign a Representative or Interested Party

You’ll find the option to designate a “representative” or an “interested party” on your new account application. Most people will get confused by these options. 

When you designate a representative, you’re giving that particular person “power of attorney”. Basically, this means that they can transact on your account at their own, sole discretion. 

You’re advised to NOT give power of attorney to your precious metals dealer or supplier. Reputable companies won’t agree to it and if a company does want you to give them power of attorney as a representative then that’s a huge red flag.

When you designate an interested party, you enable a person to speak freely with your custodian about your account. 

If a person is not listed as an interested party, you’ll need to be there or on the telephone for every interaction between that person and your custodian. 

An interested party does NOT have power of attorney and therefore cannot transact on your account at their discretion. 

Holding Precious Metals in Your Gold IRA - What You Need To Know

In this section we’ll go over what kind of precious metals you can hold in your new gold IRA, how to buy and sell physical precious metals, and more.

You can’t just go out and buy any random gold bullion or gold coins that you find for sale. 

You can only hold certain IRS-approved gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins as well as bars in your retirement accounts. 

Here’s a basic rundown of what you can hold:  

  • Gold that’s 99.5% pure.
  • Silver that’s 99.9% pure. 
  • Platinum that’s 99.95% pure.
  • Palladium that’s 99.95 pure.  
  • Bullion coins that are considered to be in “Brilliant Uncirculated” condition. 
  • Certain IRS-approved proof coins that are in their original mint packaging that are considered to be in flawless condition. They must also come with a certificate of authenticity.  
  • Non-U.S. mint coins, bars or rounds that are accredited by a refiner, assayer or manufacturer that meet the minimum purity requirements. 

It’s worth noting that “gold IRA” is commonly used as a catch-all term for any precious metals IRA that holds gold. 

It’s much simpler than saying something like “gold and silver IRA” or “gold, silver and Bitcoin IRA”.

How Do You Buy And Sell Precious Metals In Your Self-Directed Ira? 

To buy, you need to choose the gold or precious metal items you want to purchase. 

Your precious metals dealer will complete an investment direction form for you and will then give you the form for you to sign. 

After your dealer gets your signed document, they’ll work with your custodian to finalize your purchase. After that, your dealer will send your precious metals to your chosen depository for storage.  

To sell, call your dealer to confirm your buy-back price. They’ll send you an investment direction form that needs your signature. Your dealer will then work with your custodian to have your metals transferred to their account. After that, they’ll wire your cash to your IRA.

Where Will Your Precious Metals Be Stored?   

Your precious metals must be kept somewhere safe that has secure storage. After you choose your custodian, you need to choose an IRS approved and qualified 3rd-party precious metals depository. 

The most popular gold IRA storage facilities in the U.S. are Delaware Depository, Brinks Global Services USA, International Depository Services, Texas Precious Metals Depository and Texas Bullion Depository. 

It’s important to note these approved storage facilities are privately owned companies. Your holdings are fully insured, and they’re held in secure vaults outside of the U.S. banking system.

What’s The Difference Between Segregated And Commingled Storage?  

When you apply for your new account, you’ll need to choose between “segregated” and “commingled” storage for your precious metals.  

Choosing a segregated storage account means that your precious metals will be cataloged, marked with your name as well as account number and then stored within your custodian’s vault. 

After that, when you make the choice and either sell your metals or take an in-kind distribution, you’ll be given the exact same coins or bars that you bought all those years before.  

It should be noted that you usually can’t choose segregated storage for silver because of how bulky it is and how much of it you can get for its price.  

Meanwhile, choosing commingled storage means that your precious metals will be mixed in with other clients’ metals when it’s held in your custodian’s vault. 

When you choose your distribution method, you’ll be given the same type of coin or bar of precious metal but not the exact one that you initially purchased.  

Most clients tend to choose commingled storage since it’s more cost-effective and convenient. 

How Should You Choose Your Dealer?

Be careful when choosing your dealer based off of TV or radio ads without doing your due dilligence. 

Picking your precious metals supplier will have a big impact on your success with a gold IRA which is why you need to be careful when you choose your dealer. Your precious metals dealer should have fair prices and a good reputation. 

Using the Better Business Bureau to check up on a company is a great way to make sure that they’re legit. 

Great dealers to work with are usually accredited with the Better Business Bureau  and have very few complaints lodged against them. The Better Business Bureau also has client reviews that you can read on their website.  

It’s worth noting that reviews and complaints are deleted by the Better Business Bureau after three years.

Another trick to use is to Google your dealer’s name on Google along with the words “lawsuit”, “scam” or “terrible service”. 

If anything too suspicious for your tastes comes out, avoid that dealer at all costs. You also want to choose a dealer that’s been in business for a decent amount of time, preferably more than a decade if you can help it.  

Red Flags To Look Out For With Gold Ira Companies 

Here’s an extra section of tips that’ll help you avoid choosing a gold IRA company that’ll overcharge you. These points are all red flags that you should look out for.

  • Terrible reviews online on Google Reviews.
  • No presence, ratings or reviews on the Better Business Bureau and the Business Consumer Alliance.
  • Huge marketing budgets which means constant TV and radio advertisements. 
  • Been in business for a very short amount of time. 
  • Offering exclusive deals that sound too good to be true like offering free gold and waived fees if you work with them.  
  • Hiding the fees they charge such as their annual fees until they actually charge you.

Do your best to choose a company that avoids the red flags above. Definitely avoid them if they display all of the seven red flags above. 

Let's go through some trusted gold IRA providers.

Gold IRA Company Recommendations  

There are countless gold IRA companies out there and choosing the best one can be difficult. 

It seems weird to think, but some of the top gold IRA companies do barely any advertising. Here’s a list of our recommended gold IRA companies for you to choose from. 

Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses so make sure to choose the one that best suits you. 

augusta precious metals logo

# 1 - Augusta Precious Metals (Most Trusted)

Augusta Precious Metals is our top gold IRA company recommendation. They have a great reputation, are great for high networth individuals, and have been around since 2012. They are almost completely focused on precious metals as their name suggests. Augusta Precious Metals is extremely well rated by both the Better Business Bureau as well as the Business Consumer Alliance. 

How we rated Augusta

We gave Augusta Precious Metals 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.

Pros

  • Best for high networth individuals
  • 100% 5 stars at ratings firms (as of 2022)
  • Great pricing and waived fees

Cons

  • High minimum investment amount ($50K)
  • Less gold selection than some dealers
  • Not as good for beginners
birch gold logo

# 2 - Birch Gold Group (Best Choice For New Investors)

Birch Gold Group is a company with almost two decades of history. They’re gold IRA specialists with a great reputation that charges low fees and has an excellent as well as easy buyback program. Birch Gold Group is recommended for new investors since they’re easy and efficient to work with, have low fees and you can start a gold IRA with them for as low as $10,000. 

How we rated Birch Gold

We gave Augusta Precious Metals 4.5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.

Pros

  • Competitive fees and great pricing
  • Awesome customer onboarding experience
  • Great selection of precious metals

Cons

  • Some negative reviews online
  • Large minimum account size
  • Not much info on leadership
advantage gold logo

# 3 - Advantage Gold (Best For IRA Rollovers)

Advantage Gold is a relatively young company that’s been in business since 2014 and an awesome gold IRA company to work with for a rollover. They specialize in converting eligible accounts into precious metals IRAs and deal with both precious metals IRAs as well as cash sales of precious metals.

How we rated Advantage Gold

We gave Augusta Precious Metals 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.

Pros

  • Best for rollovers and transfers
  • Very few complaints online
  • Lower account minimums to start

Cons

  • Pricing not transparent
  • $25,000 minimum account size
  • Less info on them available

# 4 - Goldco Precious Metals (Best Gold Selection)

Goldco Precious Metals has been around since 2006 and they handle both IRA as well as non-IRA transactions. Goldco Precious Metals is highly rated on multiple sites such as TrustLink, Google Reviews and most importantly the Better Business Bureau.

How we rated Goldco

We gave Goldco 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.

Pros

  • Best all around gold IRA dealer
  • Great selection of gold products
  • Great buy-back program

Cons

  • Minimum $25,000 investment amount
  • Some negative reviews online
  • Pricing and fee info is hard to verify online
american hartford gold logo

# 5 - American Hartford Gold (Best Customer Service)

American Hartford Gold is easily one of the most trustworthy gold IRA dealers, with near pristine ratings and reviews online, great product inventory, and super a super helpful team with great customer service. It's obvious they care about their customers. On the other hand, if you're looking for platinum or palladium, you're out of luck. We gave AHG 5 out of 5 stars. 

How we rated American Hartford Gold

We gave American Hartford 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.

Pros

  • Pristine reviews and ratings online
  • Great selection of coins and bullion
  • Lots of great promotions & low minimums

Cons

  • Pricing is not transparent on the website
  • No platinum or palladium products listed
  • Unclear if they will price match with competitors

These are some of the best gold IRA companies for you to choose from.

In keeping with the spirit of individually customized, self-directed IRAs, you should do your research and choose the company that best suits your needs.

Final Thoughts - Is a Gold IRA Rollover Worth It?

gold ira rollover

If you had any questions about gold IRA rollovers, hopefully they’ve all been answered by this article.

We believe a gold IRA account is one of the best ways to buy and hold physical gold and silver long-term. 

Carefully decide what you’re going to do next and if you choose to invest in a gold IRA, do so after diligent research as well as generous amounts of reading.

We hope this article was helpful and will help if you do choose to invest in precious metals with a gold IRA!

About the author 

Sam Rexford