Gold IRA company reviews
All of the Gold IRA companies claim to be the best.
To support their claims, they cite glowing customer reviews and the business awards they have received from companies that you have never heard of.
Since they are all claiming to be better than their competitors, how do you sort through their claims and identify the actual best Gold IRA companies of 2022?
As a starting point, you need to understand three important facts:
Gold IRA companies are completely unregulated. They don’t fall under the purview of the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) or any other financial oversight agency.
“Puffery”, or exaggeration, is legal in advertising. As long as a company doesn’t engage in outright false advertising, it is almost expected that they will brag (tell tall tales) about themselves.
When you search the internet for a term like, “Best Gold IRA companies of 2022”, most (if not all) of the results you will find are posted by affiliate marketers who make money by sending customers to the Gold IRA companies.
Because of these three factors, it is critical that you keep the age-old adage, “Caveat Emptor”, in mind as you search for the best Precious metals IRA companies.
Now in full disclosure, Gold Well Live (this website) is also an affiliate marketer. We will receive compensation if you establish a Gold IRA with a company that we refer you to.
There are two things that set Gold Well Live apart from other affiliate marketers:
We actually specialize in Precious metals. In 2002 we made our first Investments in Silver and Gold and we have been closely following the Precious metals sector ever since. In contrast, most affiliate marketers have zero knowledge about Precious metals, much less tax-advantaged Investments like IRAs.
We aren’t willing to compromise our integrity to make a buck. Yes, we like making money, but not if it means misleading investors or encouraging them to make Investments that aren’t appropriate for their unique circumstances and tolerance for risk.
With that said, let’s talk briefly about Gold IRAs and how they came about.
What is a Gold IRA
A Gold IRA is a self-directed IRA (Individual Retirement Account) that allows investors to hold physical Precious metals (Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Palladium) using their tax-advantaged retirement savings. These IRAs can hold any of the approved metals, or a mix of the metals. The names “Gold IRA”, “Silver IRA”, and “Precious metal IRA” are used interchangeably but they all refer to the same thing.
There are two pieces of tax legislation that set the foundation for Precious metal IRAs. First, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 and, second, the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.
ERISA established Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and their variations: regular IRAs for pre-tax (tax-deferred) money; Roth IRAs for after-tax (tax-exempt) money, and self-directed IRAs for either pre-tax or after-tax money.
ERISA provided investors with new options for retirement savings but it didn’t clearly specify which asset classes could be held in a self-directed IRA (SDIRA). The law only stipulated that collectible items and insurance contracts could not be held in an SDIRA.
In response to ERISA, Investment management companies began offering IRAs for holding Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual funds, and self-directed IRAs for holding Real Estate.
Taxpayer Relief Act (1997)
The Taxpayer Relief Act clarified which asset classes could be held in self-directed IRAs and specifically named Gold and Silver in the list. In 1998 the law was amended to add Platinum and Palladium.
Even after the Taxpayer Relief Act was passed, Precious metal IRAs were only offered by a few Investment management companies. It wasn’t until 2008 when the Gold IRA industry really blossomed as investors searched for new ways to protect their tax-advantaged savings after the Great Financial Crisis.
Now that we know how self-directed Precious metal IRAs were created, let’s talk about the different roles within the industry.
Gold IRA company
This company facilitates the process of setting up a self-directed IRA where you can purchase and hold Precious metals using tax-advantaged money.
This company sells you the physical metal you will hold in your IRA account and buys the metal back when you are ready to sell. The Broker-Dealer is usually a subsidiary or affiliate of the Gold IRA company.
The IRS requires that a third-party Custodian holds the assets in a tax-advantaged Retirement account. This is true whether we are talking about Stocks, Bonds, Mutual funds, or physical Precious metals. A Custodian ensures that IRS regulations are followed and that required paperwork is filed.
A Depository provides secure storage and insurance for the Precious metals in your IRA.
Although Gold IRA companies are unregulated, all of the other roles have to register with the SEC or other regulatory agencies.
Most of the Gold IRA companies have established relationships with Broker-Dealers, Custodians, and Depositories. They will recommend that you use their preferred companies but they will work with any company that you specify.
"We need to be vigilant about protecting our hard-earned money.
For centuries, precious metals have been known as safe-haven assets,
in particular, in times of uncertainty."
Gold IRA vs physical Gold
When an investor compares a Gold IRA vs physical Gold they are really comparing physical Gold purchased inside a Retirement account against physical Gold purchased with after-tax, non-tax-advantaged money. In both cases the investor is purchasing physical Gold, the only difference is who holds the Gold and how the Gold is treated by the IRS.
The primary drawback to a Gold IRA is the IRS requirement that a third-party Custodian holds the physical metal. Ideally, we want to take personal possession of the metals we invest in and store them in a secure location that is easily accessible.
Unfortunately, if we want to purchase Precious metals using tax-advantaged funds we have to store the metal with a Custodian.
Home storage Gold IRA
There are companies claiming that you can purchase physical Gold with your tax-advantaged savings and store that Gold in your own home. Their strategy involves setting up an LLC that you control and designate as the Custodian of your IRA. The Custodian (which is actually you acting through the LLC) then stores Precious metals in a safe in your home.
The IRS has made it clear that home storage Gold IRAs are not approved and there have been multiple lawsuits where tax courts have supported this view.
In November, 2021 a US Tax Court ruled yet again that home storage is not allowed in self-directed IRAs (Andrew McNulty et al. v. Commissioner). The court described home storage Gold IRAs as a “questionable internet scheme”.
If you want to protect your tax-advantaged savings with Precious metals, your only option is a Gold IRA.
Gold IRA fees
There are fees involved with any IRA whether the account is holding traditional Investments (Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual funds) or physical Precious metals. Investment management companies typically charge an annual fee which covers both maintenance of the IRA and the services of the Custodian.
Because a Gold IRA involves physical Precious metals, there is an additional fee to cover secure storage and insurance of the metal. This fee is paid to the Depository where the metal is stored and $100 to $200 per year is typical.
Let’s compare the fees in a $50,000 IRA account holding securities (Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual funds) against the same size account holding physical Precious metals.
Fees for an IRA holding Mutual funds, Stocks, and Bonds
In a traditional IRA with a $50,000 balance you will pay an annual maintenance fee of $45 to $175 depending on which Investment management company you choose and what level of advice you want. There may be additional fees for each buy or sell transaction performed within the account.
There are additional fees involved with investing in Mutual funds. You either pay the fees up front as a commission (front-end load), pay them when you sell the Fund shares (back-end load), pay them on an annual basis (level load), or the fees are withdrawn from the Fund itself (no load). Don’t forget these fees when you are comparing the cost of different types of Investments.
For our comparison we will assume that the entire $50,000 is invested in Mutual funds and we are only paying a 0.2% fee to hold those Funds (Mutual fund fees range from 0.2% to 2.0%).
Annual IRA maintenance fee:
$45 to $175
Annual Mutual fund fee:
Total cost on $50,000 IRA holding securities:
$145 to $275
Fees for an IRA holding physical Precious metals
There are three possible charges you will pay to invest in a Precious metals IRA:
Annual fee to the Gold IRA company:
$0 to $100
Annual Custodian fee:
$80 to $150
Annual Depository fee:
$100 to $150
Total cost on $50,000 IRA holding physical Precious metals:
$180 to $400
As you can see, the annual fees on a Gold IRA are likely to be higher than a traditional IRA but keep in mind that this comparison uses a $100 per year fee for holding Mutual funds. Most Mutual funds charge more than 0.2%.
The higher fees for a Gold IRA are a tradeoff you will have to accept if you want to secure your retirement savings with physical Precious metals. When you are shopping for the best Gold IRA company you can use the fees they charge as a comparison factor.
~ Hidden fee in a Gold IRA ~
There is a hidden fee in Gold IRAs that can cause far more damage to your overall Investment results than the annual fees we just covered. That hidden fee is the premium that you pay to purchase the Precious metal products in your IRA account.
When you see a quote for the price of Gold, that price is for a 400-ounce bar. Silver price quotes are based on a 1,000-ounce bar. These quoted prices are referred to as “spot prices”.
The most common Precious metals products that investors purchase are one-ounce bars and Coins and these products carry a premium over the spot price. The premium covers the cost of turning the large bars into one-ounce bars and Coins. On the low end, premiums are 3 to 6%, but premiums run as high as 80% on special edition proof Coins.
For example, a single one-ounce Gold American Eagle Coin can be purchased online today (07/12/22) for about $1920. The spot price of Gold is currently $1732 so the Coin has a premium of 10.9% over the spot price of Gold. If we want a proof version of the same Coin it will cost $2390 which means the premium over spot is 38%.
For a single Gold Coin we would be paying a premium of $188 to $658!
In contrast to the Gold American Eagle, we can choose to hold one-ounce Gold bars in our IRA and pay significantly lower premiums. Remember that this premium is a hidden fee that we will pay when we invest in a Gold IRA.
A one-ounce Gold bar can be purchased online today for about $1833 which represents a 5.8% premium over spot.
Now understand that we have to pay these premiums whether we are buying Precious metals to bury in our garden or to hold inside our Gold IRA. Every investor pays a premium unless they are willing to purchase 400-ounce bars of Gold and 1000-ounce bars of Silver.
The objective, however, is to minimize the premium that we pay for our Investments. Another way of stating this is that we want to get the most ounces of metal possible for the least amount of money. Paying a 38% premium for a fancy Gold Coin doesn’t make sense when we are trying to maximize the return on our Investment.
Top Gold Investment companies
A Precious metals IRA is not the only way to invest in Gold, but we have to be clear about the difference between owning physical Gold and having exposure to the price of Gold.
If our objective is to own physical Gold then we only have two options:
Purchase Gold with non-tax-advantaged money and take personal possession of the metal.
Purchase Gold with tax-advantaged money and allow an IRS-approved Custodian to hold the metal until we reach retirement age.
There are two ways we can gain exposure to the price of Gold:
Purchase shares of Trusts and ETFs that claim to be backed by physical Gold
Purchase shares in mining companies that produce physical Gold
Between these two options, the first one is the best way to gain exposure to the price of Gold. There is a great deal of volatility in mining stocks which makes them inappropriate for most investors.
The most common Gold Trusts and ETFs are the Sprott Physical Gold Trust (NYSE: PHYS) and the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD).
Sprott Physical Gold Trust
Choosing the best of these two options is easy. The Sprott Trust (PHYS) is transparent about its holdings and the physical metal backing the Trust is regularly audited by a third-party.
SPDR Gold Trust
GLD, on the other hand, is less-that-forthcoming about the physical metal that supposedly backs the Trust. If you read the disclosure statement for GLD you will find verbiage about sub-custodians and the fact that no audits or chains of custody are required. Only invest money in GLD that you are willing to lose.
Best Gold IRA company
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the best Gold IRA company to work with. Because there are so many to choose from, it makes sense to start your research with the process of elimination and cross a bunch of the candidate companies off the list.
There are two criteria that you can start with:
An A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
10 or more years in business
The BBB is the oldest and most highly regarded business rating agency in the world. They have been evaluating the trustworthiness of companies since their beginning in 1912. If a Gold IRA company doesn’t have an A+ rating with the BBB, cross them off the list – there are better companies to work with.
Fly-by-night and shady businesses don’t stay around for 10 years. Eventually, word gets around and the unscrupulous businesses fail. Applying the 10-year criteria may eliminate some good businesses, but it will help you quickly narrow the field of candidate Gold IRA companies to a manageable number.
For the companies that survive the initial cut, it is time to dig into customer reviews on BBB. What kind of experience are people having with the company? How does the company respond to complaints from unsatisfied customers?
In order to maintain an A+ rating with BBB a company has to publicly respond to customer complaints. The company’s response to this negative feedback provides us with insight into how the company operates on a day-to-day basis. After you read enough negative reviews you may notice two common complaints:
Customers purchased special edition Coins with high premiums and then lost money when those Coins were sold.
Customers felt pressured to make a purchase decision and had buyer’s remorse after doing so.
It’s easy to avoid the first problem – don’t buy special edition Coins! Some Gold IRA representatives tell customers that these high-premium Coins have greater investor demand or greater liquidity when it is time to sell. This is all BS, don’t fall for it. Gold is the most liquid market in the World and informed buyers are not willing to pay a high premium for special edition Coins.
The second complaint, high pressure sales tactics, is more challenging to avoid. Good salespeople are effective at moving individuals to make a purchase decision and most people have a hard time saying “No”. If you notice that the company has received a lot of complaints about high pressure sales tactics, cross them off the list.
~ Focus on education ~
Most people have limited knowledge about how to invest in Precious metals so the best Gold IRA companies emphasize education as part of their business model. They provide educational resources on their website and have knowledgeable representatives on staff who are willing to spend time with prospective customers and answer their questions.
If you visit the websites of a few Gold IRA companies you will notice the ones that are serious about education. They will provide Gold IRA guides and a library of videos for you to watch as you learn about Precious metals.
Shown below are a few Gold IRA companies that meet the criteria we have covered in this article. In particular, these companies recognize the importance of educating consumers about how to invest in the Precious metals.
Augusta Precious Metals
You can use the companies above as the starting point for your Gold IRA research. These companies have IRA specialists available to answer your questions. If you have questions you would like to ask Gold Well Live, use the contact form and we'll respond within 48 hours.
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After the dot com bubble popped I started researching Financial bubbles - how they evolve, how they pop, etc. I quickly realized that Gold is the only real money on planet Earth and in 2002 I bought my first Gold Coin. I've been investing in the shiny stuff ever since - both physical Precious metals and the Mining stocks. I've also studied the Financial markets, trading, Technical analysis, and the endless games that central banks play with fiat currencies. I do my best to share what I've learned with others - that's what you'll find here on Gold Well Live.
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I'm just a good ol' boy from Texas, but I love to talk about the Precious metals. I share my ramblings with subscribers on a regular basis.