In recent years, gold has proven to be a source of steady and stable growth as compared to the more volatile stock market. For that reason, a growing number of retirement investors are turning to gold IRAs as a way to diversify and hedge their portfolios against market volatility and inflation. While most IRA investors invest in more traditional assets, such as stocks, bonds, and funds, the tax code also permits investing in precious metals, such as gold and silver, using specialized IRA accounts.
Unlike a traditional IRA account, which can easily be set up and maintained through a custodian, setting up and managing a gold IRA involves a few more moving parts. In some cases, investors need to locate a custodian and an approved depository. The gold has to be purchased and transferred to the depository in a manner in which the custodian can look after it. To accomplish that, investors must work with a reliable and reputable gold IRA company to facilitate the process.
Our research found 18 legitimate companies offering gold IRA services. We screened them initially for the highest consumer ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Business Consumer Alliance (BCA). That narrowed the list to nine. We screened for additional factors, such as fees and price transparency, educational resources and customer support, and the ease of setting up an account and acquiring precious metals. With that, we identified the best gold IRA companies in six categories.
The 6 Best Gold IRA Companies of 2021
Best Overall: Patriot Gold Group
Patriot Gold Group combines an extensive track record of delivering excellent customer services with superior consumer ratings and competitive pricing to make our list as the best overall gold IRA company.
$15,000 minimum investment
Qualifying new accounts can receive up to $2,500 in free coins
Need to complete form on website to get sufficient information
Founded 30 years ago in Los Angeles, Patriot Gold Group has forged a long track record of helping investors secure their financial future through gold IRAs, earning high marks from consumer groups along the way. The family-owned business has done so by delivering superior customer service while keeping their pricing competitive, making it our choice as the best overall gold IRA company.
Over its three decades, Patriot Gold has built a stellar reputation with top marks from the key consumer rating agencies, including an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, a three-star rating with the Business Consumer Alliance, and a five-star rating with Consumer Affairs.
Patriot Gold is a dealer-direct company, which means customers avoid the fee typically charged for gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion or coin purchases with investor-direct pricing. The minimum gold IRA investment is $15,000. After a one-time setup fee of $225 (waived for investments over $30,000), customers pay an annual custodian and storage fee averaging between $150 and $180 depending on the custodian they choose. Annual fees are waived for accounts of $250,000 or larger.
Customers can choose to work with any custodian, but Patriot Gold has relationships with two: Strata Trust and Equity Institutional. Both charge annual fees on a sliding scale based on the account's size and whether customers want segregated storage. Custodians select storage facilities, but they only work with IRS-approved secured depositories.
Patriot Gold prides itself on its long track record of delivering superior customer service. Account managers closely tend to customers' needs from account setup, which can be completed online or over the phone, through each transaction. Account transfers are guaranteed to be completed within 48 hours. The account reps seek to understand their customers' financial objectives to offer recommendations.
Best for Customer Support: Goldco Precious Metals
Goldco Precious Metals and its account reps go the extra mile to ensure potential and existing customers receive all the information they need to make an informed decision, which is why it's our choice as the gold IRA company with the best customer support.
Extensive educational resources
5% back in free silver coins for new accounts of $50,000 or more
Minimum investment is $25,000
No other gold IRA company takes such great pains to present investment information in an organized and objective way to gain their customers' full confidence. With nearly 15 years in the industry, Goldco Precious Metals stands out in many ways, but it has built a reputation for providing superior customer support.
From account setup through their most recent transaction, customers are treated to Goldco's "white-glove service," which includes direct access to a specialist to guide them every step of the way. Goldco encourages its customers to take full advantage of its extensive education center on its website. In addition to several e-books and a comprehensive list of videos, Goldco maintains an in-depth blog covering a range of investing topics.
It's that customer-centric focus that has earned Goldco the highest ratings from the BBB, BCA, Consumer Affairs, and Trustpilot.
The minimum investment is $25,000, for which customers pay an $80 annual service fee. Customers may choose their own custodian to work with or go with Goldco's preferred custodian, Equity Institutional, which charges $150 for segregated storage or $100 for non-segregated storage. Custodians typically have their own preferred secure depositories, and Equity's is the well-known Delaware Depository.
Account setup is quick and easy, completed primarily online. Goldco promises a two-day turnaround for account transfers and 10 days for an IRA rollover. Goldco also offers a pain-free buy-back option for investors who want to liquidate their holdings, typically at prices higher than you would receive from gold dealers.
Best for Smaller Investors: Noble Gold
With a low, $2,000 minimum investment requirement and extensive educational resources, Noble Gold is our choice as the best gold IRA company for smaller investors.
$2,000 minimum investment
Extensive educational resources
Flat service and storage fees
Annual fees can be proportionately high for low account balances
Established in 2016, Noble Gold is a relative newcomer to the gold IRA space. Still, with its low minimum investment requirement and extensive educational resource, it has quickly become a favorite as the best gold IRA company for new investors.
In its short history, Noble Gold has also gained traction with the consumer rating agencies, garnering an A+ rating with BBB, a five-star rating with Consumer Affairs, and a AA rating with BCA (zero complaints in the last three years).
In addition to its comprehensive offering of educational resources, Noble Gold provides each potential customer with an initial consultation for a mutual understanding of the customer's needs, preferences, and objectives. After that, customers are assigned a specialist who guides and educates them the rest of the way without resorting to high-pressure sales tactics.
Noble Gold's fees aren't the lowest, but they are competitive. New customers aren't charged a setup fee, but all accounts are charged an $80 annual service fee. In addition, all customers pay a $150 annual storage fee. The good news is those are flat fees charged to all accounts regardless of size, and the storage fee covers the cost of segregated storage (Noble Gold doesn't offer commingled storage). Because of Noble Gold's extensive network of partners and suppliers, customers are afforded competitive pricing on gold purchases. Noble also offers a "no-questions-asked" buy-back service.
Noble Gold's preferred custodian is New Direction IRA, but customers can select their own custodian. The same goes for choosing a secure depository, but International Depository Services (IDS) with three locations across the country is their preferred depository. Storage with the high-tech IDS facility comes with a Lloyd’s of London insurance policy.
Potential customers can spend all the time they need on Noble Gold's website, browsing educational materials and gathering the information they need before contacting a representative to open an account. A part of the account registration process can be completed online, but you will need the assistance of a representative to complete the process.
Best for IRA Rollovers: Regal Assets
IRA rollovers can be tricky, requiring specific expertise to avoid mistakes. So, when 95% of Regal Assets' business is IRA rollovers, you can be certain it knows what it's doing. That's why it makes our list as the best gold IRA company for IRA rollovers.
Extensive IRA rollover track record
Zero fees for IRA rollover or transfer
$10,000 minimum investment
Flat annual service and storage fees
Cannot make purchases online
With its top consumer ratings and competitive pricing structure, Regal Assets has become a leader among gold IRA companies in just 11 years. But when 95% of a company's business comes from IRA rollovers, it deserves special recognition as the best gold IRA company for IRA rollovers. Regal Assets backs up that recognition with superior IRA rollover and transfer expertise and services. But if that wasn't enough, it now charges zero fees for the service.
Regal has established a stellar reputation in its short history with the highest ratings from BBB, BCA, Consumer Affairs, and Trustpilot. Regal Assets is the official partner of the Royal Mint, owned by the British government, in the first association of its kind throughout its 1,100-year history.
Regal's fee structure is transparent and straightforward. It charges a flat rate for its annual administration fee ($100) and its yearly storage fee ($150), which are waived the first year. That's a total of $250 regardless of the value of the account. The $150 storage fee covers the cost of segregated storage, which is lower than most firms.
There are no additional transaction fees, and the minimum investment amount is just $10,000, which is appealing to newer or younger investors.
Regal also excels at customer support. Starting with a broad array of educational resources, Regal's IRA specialists start working with customers during the application process and continue to hold their hand every step of the way.
Best for Transparent Pricing: Augusta Precious Metals
Augusta Precious Metals' customers not only benefit from low costs, they also know exactly how much they are paying and for what. For that, Augusta makes our list as the best gold IRA company for transparent pricing.
Cost and transparent fee structure
Guaranteed fair-pricing on purchases
Doesn't offer platinum or palladium
$50,000 minimum investment
No online purchases
When reviewing gold IRA companies, the difference often comes down to pricing. Many companies can say they have a low-cost fee structure, but few actually reveal all their costs. The fee structure and pricing scheme for Augusta Precious Metals is not only straightforward, but it's also completely transparent, making it our choice for the best gold IRA for transparent pricing.
Family-owned Augusta has built its reputation for transparency and integrity in eight short years by consistently earning the highest ratings from BBB and BCA. Augusta further reinforces its customers' confidence by offering a 100% money-back guarantee for new customers and guaranteed fair pricing along with seven-day price protection.
Gold IRA investors love it when a company can explain its fee structure in a sentence or two. In Augusta's case, there is a $50 setup fee, an annual administration fee of $125, and an annual storage fee of $125. The annual fees are waived in the first year. That's it. There are no transaction fees, and Augusta will tell you that the markup of precious metals bullion products is about 5% over cost. Augusta also has an excellent buy-back program, paying the going market rate for coin repurchases instead of the spot price, which is typically lower.
Augusta works with highly reputable Brink's Global Services and International Depositary Services for their customers' storage needs, with vault locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Overall, Augusta's customer service is top-notch, as its high consumer ratings indicate. Augusta's onboarding and transaction processes are turnkey, with specialists assisting customers with all the necessary paperwork. However, customers are not able to make purchases online.
Augusta's two significant drawbacks are its limited choice of metals and its high minimum investment requirement for establishing a gold IRA. Customers who want to invest in platinum or palladium will have to go elsewhere as Augusta focuses on gold and silver bullion and coins. Augusta's unusually high minimum investment of $50,000 probably won't attract many small investors, but it is attractive for IRA rollovers with its transparent pricing scheme.
Best for First-Time Buyers: Advantage Gold
With its low minimum investment requirement, low-cost fee structure, and vast educational resources, Advantage Gold makes our list as the best gold IRA company for first-time buyers.
Extensive educational resources
Low annual fees
Relatively short operating history
Online purchase not available
Barely five years old, Advantage Gold operates well beyond its age. With its low minimum investment requirement, hands-on customer support, and comprehensive educational platform, Advantage Gold has made its mark as the best gold IRA company for first-time buyers.
Since its founding in 2016, Advantage Gold has strived to build a top-notch reputation by providing superior customer service. Having garnered top ratings from the BBB (A+) with two resolved complaints and the BCA (AA) with no complaints filed over the last three years, the young company has exceeded expectations. What the company may lack in terms of time in the business, it makes up with the collective experience of its management team and its highly trained staff.
While Advantage Gold appeals to gold IRA investors of all types, it has a particular appeal for first-time buyers. It's specially designated First Time Gold Investor Program is designed to nurture new investors along the knowledge path to build their confidence and make them feel secure in their investment decisions. New investors are taken under the wing of specialists as they are introduced to a vast library of educational resources for learning the ins and outs of investing in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion and coins, as well as the steps involved in setting up and managing a gold IRA. At no time are investors exposed to high-pressure sales tactics.
Advantage Gold's flat fee schedule is welcoming for new investors, as is its $5,000 minimum investment requirement. After an initial setup fee of $50, investors pay a flat $75 annual administrative fee and a flat $100 annual storage fee. The first-year fees are waived for minimum investments of $50,000 or more. Advantage Gold also has a very liberal buy-back program, offering repurchases at the going market rate, which is higher than the spot price offered by some competitors.
The preferred custodian for Advantage Gold is Self-Directed IRA Services, Inc. (SDIRA). For its customers' storage needs, the company works with Brink's Global Services USA, Inc., and Delaware Depository, both highly reputable vault companies.
What Is a Gold IRA?
A gold IRA is a specialized, self-directed individual retirement account designed to hold precious metals. As with a traditional IRA, a gold IRA allows pre-tax contributions, and the investment earnings can then accumulate tax-deferred. The contribution and income limits are the same. But, unlike a traditional IRA, which typically holds paper assets such as stocks, bonds, funds, ETFs, and cash equivalents, a gold IRA is set up strictly to hold physical gold or other approved metals. With a gold IRA, you don't hold the gold yourself. It must be stored in a secure depository.
The IRS has established guidelines for metal "fineness" standards to determine whether gold or silver in the form of bullion or coins is acceptable for a gold IRA. Also, the IRS only allows specific gold coins, such as the American Gold Eagle or Canadian Maple Leaf. A reliable gold IRA company knows what is and what's not acceptable for a gold IRA.
What Does a Gold IRA Cost?
Generally, there are three sets of fees charged with a gold IRA. A one-time account setup fee can range from $50 to $150. Some companies waive the fee for a larger initial deposit. There's also an annual administrative or custodial fee, which can range from $50 to $150 depending on the account's size. Storage fees are charged by the depository ranging from $50 to $300 annually, depending on the amount of gold being stored.
A gold IRA often comes with higher fees than a traditional or Roth IRA that invests solely in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
Most gold IRA companies don't charge a commission for purchasing or selling gold. However, many add a "markup" to the spot price, which is essentially their take to facilitate the transaction. Some companies are transparent about their markup while others are not. Companies that buy direct can eliminate the middleman, allowing them to reduce their markup.
Should I Buy Gold Bullion or Gold Coins?
When purchasing gold for their gold IRA, investors can choose between bullion and sovereign coins. While both are essentially valued in the same way—per ounce based on the spot price of gold—sovereign coins may be the safer choice. Generally, well-known sovereign coins, such as the American Eagle and Canadian Maple Leaf, are easily recognizable and easier to trade, and they tend to sell at higher premiums than bullion bars. Small bullion bars (1 oz) are harder to sell back, and the markups are higher. Large bullion bars are more suited for institutional investors.
However, if you work with a reliable and customer-focused gold IRA company, they are likely to have favorable buy-back policies for either coins or bullion, though their transaction costs may be higher for bullion.
Where Should I Store My Gold?
When you own gold inside a gold IRA, you are not allowed to store it at home. A gold IRA company's role is to facilitate the process of setting up the IRA and purchasing the gold coins or bullion. The investor must still find a custodian and a secure depository for their gold. Many gold IRA companies partner with a custodian and either the custodian or the gold IRA company might select a depository.
The gold in a gold IRA must be stored in an IRS-approved depository; you can’t keep it in a safety deposit box, home safe, or under your mattress.
A quality gold IRA company will only work with thoroughly vetted and reputable third-party storage firms or secured depositories. Some companies have relationships with multiple depositories located around the country. In most cases, the company handles the transportation logistics and insurance coverage.
It's up to you to confirm that any company you invest with has all the required licenses, registrations, insurance, and bonds to protect your investment. Ask for verification of those licenses and other information.
Is a Gold IRA the Best Way to Invest in Gold?
There are many ways to invest in gold, and a gold IRA is one of them. But is it the best way? It depends on several factors. Investors can purchase gold bullion and coins outside of an IRA. There are no IRS restrictions on what they can own and how they must store their gold. Investors can choose to store their gold at home, which avoids storage fees. Also, there are no custodial fees. Investors who hold their gold for more than a year are subject to favorable capital gains tax rates instead of ordinary income tax rates, which is what you pay when you sell gold and withdraw the funds from an IRA.
Physical gold doesn't generate income, which is important to people in retirement. To generate income, the gold has to be liquidated so funds can be withdrawn. For retirees reaching age 72, they need to have sufficient liquidity in their retirement account to take their required minimum distributions (RMD), which could force them to sell some of their gold holdings.
All of this could be problematic for retirees who are heavily invested in gold. It would be less of a problem, and perhaps more desirable, if their gold IRA was just a part of their overall retirement portfolio. Owning gold in an IRA makes sense if it is a part of a diversification strategy, where gold provides an inflation hedge. Investors can have more than one IRA. If their IRAs hold paper assets, they have additional sources of current income and RMD withdrawals.
Younger investors with less money to invest in gold may be better off with a traditional IRA, investing in gold equivalents, such gold ETFs or gold mining stocks, until they accumulate enough to meet the higher minimum requirements of gold IRAs.
The best way to take advantage of a gold IRA is to use it as an accumulation vehicle as part of a broader, more diversified investment strategy. But then, that can also be accomplished without using a gold IRA.
How We Chose the Best Gold IRA Companies
There are many factors to consider when choosing a gold IRA company. With your future financial security at stake, the most crucial consideration is the reputation and integrity of the company you entrust to facilitate your gold purchase. We reviewed 18 companies based on their consumer ratings, using the Better Business Bureau, Business Consumer Alliance, Consumer Affairs, and selected nine companies with the highest ratings from each (A+ with BBB, AAA with BCA, five stars with CA).