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Gold IRA Rollover

Gold IRA Rollover: 19 Essential Facts to Know Before You Invest


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Written by retirement account experts Pat Collins and John Halloran.

Table of Contents

1. What Is A Gold IRA Rollover?

A Gold IRA Rollover is when you move a retirement account to a Self-Directed IRA holding physical precious metals at an IRS approved depository for its owner.

2. History Of Gold IRAs

IRAs were first introduced in 1974 when Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. But it wasn’t until the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 was passed that individuals were allowed to hold certain precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium in their retirement accounts.


You can transfer any existing Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA or Self Directed IRA to a gold IRA.

If you have an inactive 401(k), meaning you no longer work with the company that created it, you can execute a gold IRA rollover. If you are over 59.5 years old and have a current 401(k) through an existing employer, you may be eligible for an “in-service” distribution, allowing you to do a partial gold IRA rollover.

A 403(b) plan is a retirement account offered to employees of public schools and tax exempt organizations. You can complete a rollover with a 403(b) plan after you have terminated employment. And in some cases, you can do a partial gold IRA transfer after you’ve turned 59.5 via an “in-service” distribution.

A 457(b) plan is a retirement account offered to state and local government employees, such as police officers, firefighters and other civil servants. A gold IRA rollover is only permitted with 457(b) plans once employment is terminated or in some cases at 70.5 years of age if still working.

Thrift Savings Plans are government-sponsored retirement accounts for Federal employees, such as civil servants and military. You can perform a gold IRA rollover with a TSP plan once employment is terminated. And in some cases, you’re able to do a partial gold IRA rollover via an “in-service” distribution if you’ve reached 59.5 years of age.

4. How Do I Transfer My Current Retirement Account to Precious Metals

In order to move your existing retirement account, you must first establish a Self Directed IRA with a custodian that allows you to hold physical precious metals. Your chosen gold dealer is likely to be authorized with several custodians for you to choose from. Most metals dealers will also help you to complete the paperwork to ensure a smooth transfer.

Transferring From A Traditional, Roth Or SEP IRA

If you’re moving funds from your current IRA to a new Self Directed account, you’ll simply complete a transfer request form with your new application.  Your transfer request form contains your existing IRA’s basic information, such as the current custodian, your name, account number, and the amount you’re transferring. 

Moving funds between IRAs are considered a direct transfer because you never take possession of their funds. 

A direct transfer typically takes between 10 and 14 days. You can expedite the process if your existing custodian accepts faxed transfer request documents and if they’ll send your funds via wire rather than check. 

Rollover From A 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) Or TSP

If you’re moving funds from a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) or TSP account to a new Self Directed precious metals IRA, it’s called a rollover. A rollover is permitted when you change jobs or have retired. If you are over 59.5 years of age and still employed with the company that created your 401(k), you may qualify for an in-service distribution. An in-service distribution would allow you to do a partial rollover, so speak with your plan administrator to confirm if you qualify.

There are two distinct types of rollovers, direct and indirect.

Indirect rollovers tend to be more complicated. With an indirect rollover, your existing 401(k) provider sends you a check for the proceeds that you deposit into your personal bank account. You then have 60 days to re-deposit those funds into your new IRA. Failure to reinvest the monies into an IRS-approved plan within the allotted 60 days creates a taxable event and if you are under 59.5 years of age, you will also incur a 10% penalty.

A direct transfer between custodians is less complex. With a direct transfer, your 401(k) provider will issue a check payable to your new custodian. They will then mail the check to you to forward or they will send it directly to the custodian on your behalf.

Most 401(k) providers can initiate your gold IRA rollover verbally over the phone. Government-sponsored retirement accounts require you to complete their own internal rollover documents. The complete rollover process can take between 2 and 6 weeks.

Note: The IRS only permits one rollover (per account) during 12 months. However, you are allowed unlimited custodian to custodian transfers.

5Understanding Taxes and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

When you transfer your existing IRA to your new self-directed account, it is not a taxable event because you are moving funds between qualified, tax-deferred plans. The same rules apply if you do a  rollover from a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), or TSP.

How Do I Take Required Minimum Distributions From My New Account?

An RMD is the minimum amount you must withdraw annually once you’ve reached 72. The previous threshold was 70.5 but is currently 72 because of changes enacted in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act.

All retirement accounts except Roths are subject to RMDs.

The custodian calculates RMDs by dividing the previous year’s account balance on December 31st by a distribution period from the IRS’s “Uniform Lifetime Table.” Once you’re 72 years of age, your custodian will provide you with the minimum amount you must withdraw each year.

In addition to a cash RMD, you have the option to take an “in-kind” distribution, whereas the depository will ship your metals to your home.  

When you request a cash distribution, most custodians will send ACH payments for free and on any timeline you choose. Please, consult your tax professional to calculate the taxes associated with your RMD.

6. Choosing Your New Custodian 

Although certain types of physical gold, silver, platinum and palladium are legally permissible in an IRA, not all custodians offer this service. Below is a list of “12 Popular Self Directed Custodians” that offer physical precious metals accounts. The custodians listed either charge a flat fee or a sliding scale based on account value. Generally, flat fee structures are more cost-effective.


Equity Trust
Ph: (855) 233-4382
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
Strata Trust
Ph: (866) 268-9218

Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile

The Entrust Group
Ph: (800) 392-9653
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
Midland Trust Company
Ph: (239) 333-1032
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
Provident Trust Group
Ph: (888) 662-0869
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
Advanta IRA
Ph: (800) 425-0653
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
IRA Financial Trust
Ph: (800) 472-1043
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile
uDirect IRA
Ph: (888) 662-0869
Fee Schedule
Better Business Bureau Profile




7. How To Designate Beneficiaries

Just like with traditional retirement accounts, your self-directed gold IRA will require one or more beneficiaries. If your primary residence is not in a community property state, you can designate any person or entity, as well as what percentage they will inherit should you pass away.

If you live in a community property state and choose a primary beneficiary other than your spouse, they must sign a waiver consenting to your election.

If your spouse is your primary beneficiary, children, grandchildren, or favorite charities make popular contingents. A contingent beneficiary is “second in line” should both the account owner and primary beneficiary pass away in proximity to each other.

For each beneficiary you choose, your custodian will require their full name, Social Security number and date of birth. You have the right to change beneficiaries at any time by submitting a one-paged form.




8. Difference Between A Representative And An Interested Party

On your new account application, you will have the option to designate a Representative or an Interested Party.

If you designate a Representative, it’s the equivalent of giving that person (or company) a Power of Attorney. Simply put, they can transact on your account at their sole discretion. The Certified Gold Exchange cautions you against giving Power of Attorney to a precious metals supplier. Reputable gold dealers will not agree to become your Power of Attorney, but unethical suppliers will jump at the chance. If a metals company suggests you designate them as a Representative (Power of Attorney), it’s a red flag and you should contact us immediately.

However, designating an Interested Party can be helpful because it enables the dealer to speak freely with the custodian about your account. Without listing an Interested Party you are required to be on the telephone during every interaction between the metals supplier and custodian. More importantly, an Interested Party has no authority to transact on your account because your signature is required to authorize all buys, sells, and trades.

9. Types Of Precious Metals You Can Hold

Per the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, certain gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins and bars are permitted in retirement accounts. This includes 1 ounce, ½ ounce, ¼ ounce and 1/10 ounce coins minted by the U.S. Treasury Department as well as select bars, rounds and foreign coins of a certain purity.

  • Gold must be 99.5% pure, silver 99.9%, and platinum and palladium both 99.95% .
  • Bullion coins must be in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.
  • Proof coins must be in original Mint packaging, in flawless condition with Certificate of Authenticity.
  • Non U.S. Mint coins, bars and rounds must be accredited by a refiner, assayer or manufacturer and meet minimum purity requirements.

Below is a list of the different gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins, bars and rounds that are IRS approved.


American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins
American Eagle Gold Proof Coins
American Gold Buffalo Bullion Coins
Canadian Gold Polar Bear Coins
Canadian Gold Polar Bear & Cub Coins Canadian Gold Orca Coins

Canadian Gold Grizzly Bear Coins 
Canadian Gold Arctic Fox Coins
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins Canadian Gold Snowy Owl Coins
Canadian Gold Snow Falcon Coins


American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins
American Eagle Silver Proof Coins
Canadian Silver Polar Bear Coins Canadian Silver Snow Falcon Coins Canadian Silver Orca Coins
Canadian Silver Grizzly Bear Coins
Canadian Silver Arctic Fox Coins
Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coins
Canadian Silver Polar Bear & Cub Coins
Canadian Silver Snowy Owl Coins

Austrian Silver Vienna Philharmonic Coins
Australian Silver Kookaburra
British Silver Britannia Coins
Chinese Silver Panda Coins Accredited Silver Bars and Rounds



10. How To Buy And Sell Precious Metals In Your Self Directed IRA

To execute a buy, you simply select the gold and/or silver items you would like to acquire, and your chosen precious metals dealer will complete an Investment Direction form for you. They will then forward you the document for your signature. 

Upon receiving your signed document, your precious metals dealer will work with your custodian to finalize the purchase. Your dealer will then send your precious metals to your selected depository for its safekeeping.

Selling your precious metals is just as easy and as fast a process. First, simply call your dealer to lock in your buyback price. They will then send you an Investment Direction form for your signature to authorize the transaction. Next, they will work with your custodian to have your metals transferred to their account and will wire the cash proceeds to your IRA. 

11. Where Your Precious Metals Will Be Stored

Upon selecting your custodian, you must choose your 3rd party (non-bank) precious metals depository qualified under Internal Revenue Code IRC-408n. Below are the five most popular gold IRA storage facilities in the U.S.

Delaware Depository

Ph: (302) 765-3889
Better Business Bureau Profile

The Delaware Depository is a licensed precious metals depository of the CME group and ICE Futures U.S. They employ multiple layers of physical and electronic security, along with proprietary systems and internal controls as one of the most secure operations of its kind.

The Delaware Depository maintains $1 billion in “all risk” insurance coverage through Lloyds of London. Risks include, “physical loss and/or physical damage, including mysterious disappearance and/or unexplained loss and shortage, employee dishonesty and theft. Loss or damage from fire, flood or other natural disaster is also covered.”

All precious metals stored with the Delaware Depository are fully allocated and held off-balance sheet, meaning that at all times clients are recognized as the sole owners and titleholders of said metal.

Brinks Global Services USA

Ph: (877) 527-4657
Better Business Bureau Profile

Brinks has been a leader in hard asset logistics for over 150 years. With clients in over 100 countries and 1,200 operations facilities, Brinks has secured its market position as the world’s largest tangible asset logistics company.

Brinks has state of the art storage facilities and “all risk” insurance coverage.

International Depository Services

Ph: (888) 322-6150

International Depository Services (IDS) is a CME Group and Intercontinental Exchange approved precious metals depository. They offer state of the art, secure storage facilities equipped with multi redundant security systems and Class III vaults.

IDS also offers geographic diversification with depositories strategically located in Delaware on the Eastern Seaboard, and in the heart of the U.S. in Texas.

IDS provides “all risk” Lloyds of London underwritten insurance protection.

Texas Precious Metals Depository

Ph: (361) 594-3624

The Texas Precious Metals Depository is a privately owned, fully underground, state of the art depository.

The full value of all precious metals held in their custody is insured by Lloyds of London against external theft, employee theft, fire, flood and other natural disasters. All storage accounts are audited annually by ADKF, certified public accountants.

Texas Bullion Depository
Ph: (844) 416-GOLD

The Texas Bullion Depository is one of a kind in that it’s the first ever “state-administered precious metals bullion depository”. The establishment of the depository was made possible with the passing of Texas H.B. 483. Per their website, “The Texas Bullion Depository has been designed to ensure the depositor sleeps well at night knowing their valuable precious metal assets are properly accounted for and protected.” All precious metals held at the Texas Bullion Depository are insured by a Lloyds of London “all risk” insurance policy. 

For information on safekeeping gold and silver outside of your retirement accounts, read “The 4 Best Gold Storage Options for Ultimate Peace of Mind“.


12. The Difference Between Segregated And Commingled Storage

On your new account application, you will get to choose between commingled and segregated storage. Segregated storage is not available for silver because it’s bulky, and you get so much of it for your money.

With a segregated storage account, your precious metals will be cataloged, marked with your name and IRA account number, and stored within your custodian’s section at the vault. Later, when you choose to either sell your metals or take an in-kind distribution (a distribution of the physical metals), you will receive the exact coins or bars that you initially purchased.

Commingled storage means that your precious metals will be held in a segregated portion of the vault for your custodian but will be commingled with other clients’ metals. Later, when you choose to either sell or take an in-kind distribution, you will receive “like” precious metals, meaning the same type of coin or bar, not the exact ones you originally purchased.

Your precious metals are subject to a rigorous examination process and must be in perfect Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition to be accepted at the depository. Therefore, most clients opt for the more affordable commingled storage.

13. Understanding Gold IRA Fees

When you purchase physical metals for your new IRA the costs can be slightly higher than with digital transactions. For example, if you buy shares of a gold fund or ETF, you don’t own any real gold, and your transaction is completely digital. No metal needs to be moved or insured, as they do with physical gold IRAs.</9>

Investors that insist on 100% sole ownership of physical precious metals IRA tend to not mind the slightly higher fees because of the peace of mind that comes from having a tangible asset. 

Most precious metals IRA dealers are market makers, meaning they make a buy price and sell price for every item in their inventory. If the dealer’s buy price was the same as their sell price, they would not make any money and would be out of business quickly. The difference between the IRA buy and sell price is known as the spread. 

For example, if a dealer sells a 1-ounce gold bullion coin for $2,140 and at that same moment buys it back for $2,000, their buy/sell spread is 7%. It’s important to remember that every bar and coin carries a different buy/sell spread and that the spread can change over time due to supply and demand conditions. 

When it comes to buy/sell spreads, Southern California dealers are typically the most expensive. In fact, investors lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually in excess fees from this region’s gold IRA companies. Chances are you’re either already in communication with one of these overpriced dealers or you’ve at least seen their ads due to their enormous marketing budgets.

These firms generally have appealing brands and conservative celebrity spokespersons, but they will likely charge 20% or more over discount dealers’ pricing.

Warning signs of overpriced gold IRA companies:

  • Southern California location
  • Conservative celebrity spokesperson endorsements
  • In business ten years or less
  • Offer you free gold and silver with your IRA transfer 
  • Offer to pay your custodian and storage fees
  • Exclusive coin offerings difficult to price check
  • Extremely expensive conservative TV or radio ads

If the gold IRA company you’re working with exhibits two or more of the above warning signs, you may be paying 20% more than you need to. 


In addition to fees charged by precious metals firms mentioned above, there are custodial, storage and insurance fees. Below is a fee comparison chart of two of the most popular precious metals IRA rollover custodians and include storage and insurance costs.
  Account Set-Up Annual Account Fees Storage/Insurance (Commingled) Fees Transaction Fees Total First Year Fees Annual Fees Thereafter
Strata Trust $50 $95 $100 $75 $320 $195
Equity Trust $50 $80 $100 $30 $260 $180

14. Don’t Be Misled By “Best Gold IRA Companies” Review Sites

Upon first glance, an “independent” website claiming to have researched the “Best Gold IRA Rollover Companies of 2021” may seem like a godsend. But upon closer inspection, you’d realize these sites are paid affiliates of the gold companies they are promoting.

These affiliates are typically paid an upfront fee and a commission of 3-6% of the gross value of your gold IRA rollover. 

Below are examples of “Best Gold IRA Companies” review sites along with their disclosures that state how they “may be” paid by the dealers they’re recommending. 



One of the referral sites above even lists a California dealer recently sued by the Los Angeles City Attorney for fraud against senior citizens as a “Best Gold IRA Rollover Company”. It’s better to learn beforehand that many of these so-called “Top Gold IRA Companies” are actually the highest priced dealers in the industry. 

And lastly, the following quotes about affiliate sites were taken directly from an online complaint forum. 

“Had I known from day one that ***** ****** paid online affiliates to create fake reviews, I would have never attempted to do business with them.”

“I found that ***** was paying for endorsements on more than 225 websites.”




15. Why You Want To Avoid “Free Gold Or Silver” Promotions

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When a dealer offers you “FREE” gold or silver, the cost comes directly out of your account balance. These promo dealers typically charge 20% more than you should be paying to make up for the cost of your “FREE” coins. If you fall for this trick, you could end up paying an extra $20,000 for every $100,000 invested.

Below are examples of free metal promotions that result in investors drastically overpaying for their metals.

gold-ira-rollover-free-metals-promotion-scams-exposed gold-ira-rollover-free-metals-promotion-scams-exposed

16. Avoid “Free Rollover” And “Zero Custodian Fees” Promos


Every self-directed IRA custodian charges for their service, and we have listed links to their fee schedules in section 6 of these 19 essential facts. So why are so many dealers willing to cover these fees for the client? Some dealers use your desire to get something for nothing to entice you into choosing their overpriced products. 

Make no mistake about it, you’re paying your account fees one way or the other.  Just like with “Free Gold Scams” listed above, your dealer will likely overcharge you by 20% or more for your metals. Trading 20% of your account value to avoid a few hundred dollars in custodian fees is a terrible deal for you, but a real windfall for the unscrupulous dealer.  

free-ira-rollover-and-zero-account-fee-and-scams-exposed free-ira-rollover-and-zero-account-fee-and-scams-exposed

17. How To Choose A Reputable Dealer

Choosing the right precious metals supplier will have a bigger impact on your success than anything else. Below are some helpful hints on how to select a proven company with a long track record of success.

Start with checking the Better Business Bureau profile of the company you’re researching. Most reputable dealers are accredited with the BBB. The rating is deceptive so checking the number of complaints is vital. Look for firms with zero complaints or with one or two at most.  

In addition to formally lodged complaints, the BBB also features client reviews. Again, more than one or two negative reviews and you may want to consider another supplier. The BBB automatically removes positive and negative reviews as well as formal complaints after three years. Therefore, if your dealer has been around for more than 3 years, it’s likely that they’ve had a similar pattern of customer comments in the past. 

There are countless horror stories of folks doing transfers with companies they heard about on a TV or radio advertisement and being fleeced because they didn’t look into their history and reputation. Don’t let that happen to you. 

You want your metals supplier to be fairly priced and have an unblemished reputation. Therefore, you should acquire all-important public information before contacting a gold dealer. Here are two surefire methods for learning about a gold IRA dealer’s public reputation

  • Search the dealer’s name on Google followed by the words lawsuit, scam, and complaints.  Well-funded dealers use reputation management tactics to bury the negative results so you should check 30 or 50 pages deep for each search term.  
  • Call us, and we will supply you with third-party public information on all the dealers you are considering for your gold IRA rollover.  This takes two minutes and will absolutely help you discover the facts you need to make a smart decision. 

So always call us to get background information on the providers you’re considering.  We only supply third-party public information. These reputation reports could save you thousands of dollars and eliminate the stress that comes from dealing with a problematic gold IRA rollover firm.

After you’ve established that your chosen dealer has a clean record, you may want to confirm how long they have been in business. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, while 50% fail within 5 years. You may find it prudent to steer clear of companies that have not been in business with functioning websites for at least 10 years.

To confirm how long a gold IRA rollover company’s website has been online, check out the internet archive. Click on, then type the company’s website URL into the search bar.  You should see results like this, confirming that their website has been online for many years, in this case since 2003.


long-term-gold-ira-rollover-dealer-report long-term-gold-ira-rollover-dealer-report Whereas the following firm has only had an online presence since 2016. short-term-gold-ira-rollover-dealer-report short-term-gold-ira-rollover-dealer-report

18. How Have Gold IRAs Performed?

The following gold chart shows the price trajectory from August 5th, 1997, when precious metal IRA accounts were enacted, through November, 15th 2021. The average annual return for gold over this period is 19.071%. 


19. Can I Take Possession Of My Metals With A Checkbook IRA?

No. The following paragraph is a quote from the IRS FAQs on IRA investments. It refers to breaking the IRS self-dealing rule by holding IRA precious metals outside of an IRS-approved non-bank trustee (depository).

“Gold and other bullion are “collectibles” under the IRA statutes, and the law discourages the holding of collectibles in IRAs. There is an exception for certain highly refined bullion provided it is in the physical possession of a bank or an IRS-approved non-bank trustee. This rule also applies to an indirect acquisition, such as having an IRA-owned Limited Liability Company (LLC) buy the bullion. IRA investments in other unconventional assets, such as closely held companies and real estate, run the risk of disqualifying the IRA because of the prohibited transaction rules against self-dealing.” 


Keep in mind that you always have access to your precious metals, but if you take a distribution from any IRA account except a Roth, it’s a taxable event. Also, if you are under 59.5 years old,  the IRS will impose a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. 

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