Q. Can I buy physical gold for my Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k)?
A. You can buy gold coins and bullion, and other precious metals, in a self-directed IRA or 401(k) established with a trust company. A self-directed plan empowers the individual to make his or her own investment decisions and adds to the available investment options. The precious metals are among those options.
Q. Can I do a rollover from my current IRA or 401(k)?
A. Yes. As a matter of fact, most precious metals’ retirement plans at USAGOLD begin with a rollover. The current law allows for both transfers from IRAs as well as rollovers from qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k), 401(a), 403(b), 457, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and annuities. We have a great deal of experience with this process and can help you navigate it with a minimum of brain damage.
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Q. Should I buy gold for my IRA or 401(k)?
A. For the conservative, risk-averse investor who is concerned about economic uncertainties and instability in the financial system -- the answer is an unequivocal "yes." Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan recently remarked that "Gold is a good place to put money these days given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments." The rationale for gold ownership within a retirement plan is the same as it is outside the plan. (Newcomers, please see Gold Chartography 101 - The case for gold ownership in ten charts you will never see on CNBC.)
Q. What is the difference between my current plan and a self-directed IRA or 401(k)?
A. All the rules, particularly pertaining to tax treatment, that apply to conventional retirement plans also apply to self-directed plans. Generally, conventional plans do not allow for diversifications into physical gold because of the special circumstances that accompany precious metal ownership - storage, insurance and custodial responsibilities. Typically, the client planning for retirement who wishes to purchase precious metals in physical form, i.e., coins and bullion, must establish a new account with a trustee that allows self-directed retirement plans. The client then transfers funds from his or her current trustee to a new trustee that allows these special transactions.
Q. Can USAGOLD help me choose a trustee that sponsors self-directed IRAs or 401(k)s?
A. Yes. At this time, we have direct working relationships with two trust companies that offer self-directed plans.
Q. What is the role of the trustee in my retirement plan?
A. Self-directed trustees do not render investment advice. They simply provide the administrative and reporting services, and work with various vendors, like USAGOLD, that offer specific, permitted precious metals investments under the Internal Revenue code. Of course, the trustees charge fees for their services and those charges are generally listed on their websites. As a result, the client planning for retirement can get a sense of what the costs will be before making a commitment.
Q. Why is it important to choose the right vendor for your gold rollover?
A. Choosing the right gold firm can mean the difference between success and failure as a gold owner. Choose the right firm and it will help you stay the course on protecting your assets from economic uncertainties. Choose the wrong firm and your funds can be diverted to an assortment of bullion-related investments and/or derivative investments that are not truly asset preservation vehicles. Gold stocks, for example, are an investment in stocks first and gold bullion second. Mint state and proof coins graded by independent services usually sell for high mark-ups over their gold value that immediately put the buyer at a disadvantage. Precious metals exchange traded funds and certificates introduce counter-party and systemic risk to the investment equation. These are just three examples of the kinds of investments that can lead the investor away from the stability of conventional coin and bullion investments, and generally should be avoided by investors whose goals include building a hedge against economic certainties or a long-term store of value.
Q. How can the average person planning for retirement distinguish between the good vendors and the bad?
A. First, and most important: Check the Better Business Bureau's profile on a company before you do business with it. Check not only its rating but the number of complaints lodged against it and how those complaints were handled. A consistent record of complaints can be a warning sign even if the company has managed to keep an A+ rating. This is a simple and straightforward step every first-time investor should take, but it is amazing how many ignore it. Second, choose a gold firm that has a solid track record. Ten years in business is good; fifteen years or more is even better. Third, choose a firm with a commitment to keeping you informed, i.e., one that is interested in answering your questions now and keeping you informed in the future. If a sales person gives you short shrift or hits you with a heavy sales pitch take it as a warning. (Note: USAGOLD has been awarded the Better Business Bureau's Gold Star Certificate, its highest accolade. In addition, the firm has been rated A+ by the BBB with zero consumer complaints. The firm has been accredited since 1991.)
Q. What are the mechanics of a gold rollover?
A. It is quite simple and straightforward. After an initial telephone consultation, we send an e-mail that contains links to the two trust companies we use to administer the program. The client chooses which trust company he or she wants and then submits the completed paperwork by e-mail, fax, overnight courier, or standard US Mail. The process of opening and funding the account is handled by the two trustees involved in the rollover. Usually, in the course of about two weeks--sometimes less--the funds are moved from the current trustee to the new trustee. At that point, the client is able to contact USAGOLD to purchase metals for his or her IRA or 401(k).
Q. Is now a good time to do a rollover into gold?
A. Gold, first and foremost, is wealth insurance. You cannot approach it the way you approach stock or real estate investments. Timing is not the real issue. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you believe you need to own gold. If you answer that question in the affirmative, there is no point in delaying your actual purchase, or waiting for a more favorable price that may or may not appear. Cost averaging can be a good strategy. The real goal is to diversify so that your overall wealth is not compromised by economic dangers and uncertainties like the kind generated by the 2008 financial crisis or the on-going sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
Q. Does it make sense from a cost point of view to start a new precious metals IRA with fresh contributions but no rollover?
A. Because of the annual fees for storage, insurance and management fees (approx. $225/year), precious metals IRAs are most economical when their value is higher, and that is where a rollover makes a great deal of sense. Someone just starting an IRA, even with maximum yearly contributions, would need a few years to accumulate a large enough account to make a self-directed plan cost effective.
Q. Is a checkbook gold and silver IRA a viable strategy?
A. We at USAGOLD see the checkbook IRA as a risky, problematic approach to precious metals retirement planning and a bad choice for our clientele. The traditional self-directed IRA account placed with a solid trust company is still the safest avenue for the retirement investor and the one most likely to deliver the intended results. At the link below, we provide a full analysis of this approach to using precious metals for your retirement plan. We strongly suggest reading it before committing your hard-earned retirement funds to this questionable strategy.