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Gold 401(K): Investment Guide

An increasing number of investors are searching for a safe and effective way to protect their retirement savings in 2022. Many are concerned that the stock market is overvalued and will crash again like it did in 2008. And with inflation raging at 40-year highs, neither of these scenarios paint a rosy picture for 401(k) plans invested in traditional paper assets.

Just look at the blue line on the following chart. The 12-month percentage change in the CPI (Consumer Price Index) for all items is up from 2.6% to 8.5%. That’s an increase of over 300% in one year! This is obviously not sustainable. The dollar is being printed into oblivion. It’s no wonder investors are running for the exits and trying to protect their hard-earned retirement savings with physical gold.

And because of that, the Certified Gold Exchange has created the following gold 401(k) guide to help you learn how to bullet-proof your retirement portfolio. In the next 7 minutes, I promise that you will gain a better understanding of gold 401(k) plans and be equipped to decide what the next best step is in preserving and growing your retirement account assets.

So let’s start from the Genesis.

History of 401(k) Plans

401(k) plans were legally permitted with the passing of the Revenue Act of 1978. The Act contained a provision to the Internal Revenue Code – Section 401(k) that enabled employers to establish tax-deferred savings accounts for their employees.

Then in 1980, Ted Benna, a retirement benefits consultant, was hired by a bank to develop a more tax-friendly retirement option for its employees. He devised a plan for employees to contribute pre-tax money to a retirement account, with the incentive that their employer could match the employee contributions. A matched contribution incentive had never been done before, and because of that, Bennas’s client rejected the plan.

But Ted Benna believed in the tax benefits of his idea. Using his unique interpretation of the law, he created the first-ever 401(k) plans for his employees at The Johnson Companies. Benna then lobbied the IRS to change some proposed rules of the law, and by 1981 they issued formal guidance for 401(k) plans.Within only two years, almost half of all large US corporations were offering a 401(k) plan or were planning to do so, surveys show.

What is a Gold 401(k)?

Although the term “gold 401(k)” is searched for 100’s of times a month, it’s a misnomer. Traditional gold 401(k) plans do not exist. As you have undoubtedly experienced, 401(k) plans have very limited investment options.

The only type of 401(k) that can hold physical gold is called a “Solo 401(k)”. These plans are specifically designed retirement accounts for self-employed individuals only. If you have any employees, you are no longer eligible for a Solo 401(k).

So if you have a traditional 401(k) plan like most people, you must roll your retirement account over to a Self-Directed IRA to hold physical gold. You heard that right. There is no such thing as a gold 401(k).

Why Can’t I Buy Gold in my 401(k)?

Because Wall Street can’t make money on it. As seen in the chart below, as of March 31, 2021, 401(k) plans held a whopping $6.875 trillion in assets. That’s nearly one-fifth of the $34.9 trillion US retirement market. So why would Wall Street opt to give up a portion of their cash cow if they don’t have to? The answer is, they wouldn’t.

Because if they wanted to offer you gold coins, they could. Per the Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m), only life insurance and collectibles are prohibited in retirement accounts. 401(k) investment options, however, are typically limited to paper assets. Below are the asset classes and allocations of retirement funds in 401(k)s and an accompanying chart. Notice how they are all Wall Street products.

  • Equity Funds (Mutual Funds, Index Funds)
  • Target Date Funds
  • Bond Funds
  • GICs and Stable Value Funds
  • Non-Target Date Balanced Funds
  • Company Stock
  • Money Market Funds

You see, there’s no money in allowing you to buy gold or other precious metals in your retirement savings account. There are no commissions to be made or fees to be generated from trading your account. This is why your 401(k) provider, typically a big Wall Street bank, doesn’t offer you precious metals as an investment option even though they are legally permitted to do so.

What Options Do I Have With My 401(k)?


If you no longer work with the company that sponsored your 401(k), you are free to roll it over to a Self-Directed gold or silver IRA account.

In-Service Distribution

If you are still employed with the company that sponsored your plan but are over 59.5 years of age, you most likely qualify for an “in-service” distribution. Which means you can access the fully vested portion of your retirement account.

Call Your Provider

If you’re still employed with your plans sponsor and are not over 59.5, chances are you can’t touch your account. But be sure to contact your plan provider to confirm.

How Do I Rollover an Old (Inactive) 401(k) Into a Gold and Silver IRA?

To roll over an old 401(k) into a precious metals IRA, you must first establish a new account with an IRA custodian.

Once established, call your existing 401(k) provider and request that they initiate a rollover. You will then provide them with your new custodians’ information and your account number.

Your plan provider will mail a check of the rollover proceeds either directly to your new IRA custodian or to you to forward to them.

You now have 60 days from the issuance of the rollover check to deposit said funds into your new IRA account. Failure to do so within the allotted time frame will cause your “rollover” to be treated as a distribution, and you’ll have to pay income taxes on the total amount.

Can I Get Professional Help Completing My Gold IRA Rollover?

Yes! If you are rolling over an old 401(k) to a gold IRA or taking an in-service distribution after 59.5 years of age, the Certified Gold Exchange can help. Our precious metals experts can assist you with every step of the rollover process. Call our qualified precious metals IRA experts today at 800-300-0715 to discuss your options to solidify your retirement nest egg with Internal Revenue Service approved gold and silver bullion.

Once I Set Up My New Precious Metals IRA, How Do I Make a Purchase?

If you choose to use the Certified Gold Exchange as your precious metals dealer, the process will look like this:

Your designated gold IRA specialist will help you decide what type of physical precious metals will best support you in reaching your financial goals.

Our PriceMatchPlus team will perform a nationwide search amongst over 3,000 dealers to find the lowest price on your selected items.

Your gold IRA specialist will send you an email with links to websites with the three lowest prices, and they’ll beat that pricing.

You receive an email with an Investment Direction that details your gold and silver purchase. You’ll sign and date the document and return it to CGE for processing.

Because gold and silver are tangible, unlike other assets, it will typically take around 7-10 days for your precious metal to arrive and be inventoried at the 3rd party depository.

Note that if you choose another third-party dealer, you will end up paying more for your precious metals than necessary. Always call the Certified Gold Exchange at 800-300-0715 to compare pricing and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on gold and silver.

What Kind of Precious Metals Can I Hold in a Self-Directed IRA?

Gold and silver coins are the most popular choice. But you can also hold bullion bars and certain platinum and palladium items as well. The distinction is that they must be of a certain purity and in Brilliant Uncirculated condition. Below is a detailed explanation.

Can I Only Hold Numismatic Coins In My New Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account?

Per the Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m), collectible coins are not permitted in an individual retirement account. However, Proof Coins from the United States Mint, which do contain numismatic value, are the exception. Below is an example.

Am I Taxed If I Roll My 401(k) Into a Precious Metals IRA Holding Gold Coins?

Not if you deposit your rollover check into your new traditional ira within the allotted 60 days. For example, suppose you receive your rollover check and forget to send it to the IRA trustee. In that case, the transaction will be considered a distribution, and there will be tax consequences. The total rollover amount will be included in that year’s taxable income.

Can I Take Physical Possession of the Gold and Silver in My New IRA Account?

No. Some proponents of Checkbook IRAs state that you can hold your physical gold in a safety deposit box at your local bank. But your precious metals must be stored at an approved 3rd party depository per the IRS. If you attempt to store your precious metals personally and get caught, you’ll have to pay IRS penalties. Below is a screenshot directly from the IRS website that explains why.

If My 401(k) Is Still Active and I Am Under 59.5 Years of Age, Can I Still Get Exposure to Gold and Silver?

Very few 401(k) plans allow investing in precious metals directly, as only the rare exception will allow an account owner to purchase gold and silver bullion (or other commodities). Nevertheless, there are different ways to gain exposure to gold investments or other precious metals within a 401(k)’s investment portfolio:

Gold Mutual Funds

401(k) plans can offer various mutual fund investment options, and some may focus on gold. These funds can provide exposure to gold itself or gold-related activities. For example, the Fidelity Select Gold Fund (FSAGX) is an actively managed gold-focused mutual fund with holdings in gold production, mining and exploration companies.

Physical Gold ETF

401(k) plans with a brokerage account feature make it possible to invest in gold Exchange Traded Funds. These ETFs are an easy way to gain direct exposure to gold prices, as the funds usually hold gold bullion bars. (Some might buy physical silver too.)

The Aberdeen Standard Physical Gold Shares ETF (SGOL), Invesco DB Precious Metals Fund (DBP), and SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust (GLDM) are three popular gold ETFs.

Gold Mining Stocks

If your 401(k) is linked to a brokerage account that allows active trading, you can purchase individual gold stocks. But mining stocks can be very volatile, so make sure to ask your financial advisors for input.

Start a New Gold IRA

Although not the best option, because you have to comply with contribution limits, many investors will start a brand new traditional or Roth IRA. The maximum IRA contribution limits are $6,000 per year or $7,000 if you are over 50 years of age. If you have an existing IRA, you cannot exceed the above limits between both accounts.

Traditional IRAs are funded with pre-tax dollars. While a Roth IRA will be funded with post-tax dollars. The contribution limits are the same.

Once your conventional IRA is established and funded, you can buy gold or silver or other precious metals like platinum and palladium bullion. Depending on the type of IRA account you set up, you can also purchase gold mining stocks, gold ETFs or gold mutual funds.

Why Are So Many Investors Rolling Over 401(k) Accounts into Gold IRAs Right Now?

Individual investors increasingly want to rollover their 401(k) plans to gold IRAs because:

They want to protect their wealth from rapidly rising inflation.

They want to avoid another stock market crash that devastated retirement accounts.

They are concerned with the skyrocketing national debt.

Gold and silver IRAs historically protect from paper currency devaluations.

Physical precious metals IRAs are debt-free assets and are less complex than traditional stocks.

They can’t afford to lose money or another 50% of their retirement account again at this stage of life.

Buying gold in times of great uncertainty is prudent and time-tested.

They simply want the peace of mind only a physical gold IRA can provide.

Written by Pat Collins and John Halloran

Belinda MurelBelinda Murel ★★★★★ Working with Pat and the team at Certified Gold Exchange made the process of diversifying my retirement savings stress free. I’m confident the selection of precious metals offered were the best fit for my situation and at the best price. No high pressure sales tactics, just fact based answers to the questions and concerns I had. Highly recommend.Timothy FeeleyTimothy Feeley ★★★★★ Working with Certified Gold Exchange has been a positive experience. Working with Pat is not just working with another business vendor, I feel I am working with a trusted advisor. No hard sells. No wild claims. His explanation of the paperwork process between companies and his follow-up during the process is excellent. I appreciate his fact-finding approach to my specific needs. He always had time for me to ask questions and/or discuss ideas I was thinking about. A good business relationship.Warren RichardsonWarren Richardson ★★★★★ I had an excellent experience with Certified Gold Exchange. I dealt directly with Pat Collins who was professional, knowledgeable, informative, and very easy to work with. He responded quickly and precisely to any and all of my questions. Very highly recommended!Edward AlbertEdward Albert ★★★★★ I was looking to liquidate the precious metals in my IRA . The horror stories I had heard of about some gold and silver dealers had me very apprehensive. When I called Certified Gold Exchange and talked with Patrick, I quickly felt a sense of trust in his voice. He answered all my questions and understood my fear of getting taken advantage of. He and his team work very hard behind the scenes ensuring the transaction to go smoothly. As a result CGE has earned my 5 star rating! I will contact them again if I want to buy or sell in the future!ALAN BROWNALAN BROWN ★★★★★ Certified Gold Exchange's website really jumped out to me as I began researching precious metal IRA's. I found it to be incredibly comprehensive and informative, answering questions I did not even know to ask and alerting me to bad practices within the industry as well. So, I called and found the CGE team to be every bit as helpful as the website. They were responsive immediately and throughout the process of establishing an account and funding it. They were particularly helpful when dealing directly with my current custodian and getting funds rolled over. Pat and Mary have been courteous, personable, and very professional working with me and even helped with questions outside the immediate business at hand. I have already referred friends to CGE and will continue to do so.Alison WeinbergAlison Weinberg ★★★★★ Pat and team are very knowledgeable and professional!Ismail KenessyIsmail Kenessy ★★★★★ Customer since 2005. Professional, courteous, and helpful. CGE walked me through the process and provided the best prices available with minimum costs. Excellent service.Joe MurrayJoe Murray ★★★★★ What super service I received from the Certified Gold Exchange precious metals IRA team. Wow is all I can say! I had a large amount of coins in a gold and silver IRA for many years and decided to sell. I spent just about a whole day talking to several metals dealers about purchasing my metals. Call after call I did not feel good about what I was hearing with these dealers so I called the company that helped me set the gold and silver IRA up. Their name is Broad Financial LLC. I explained the problem I was having with finding a buyer and they said that is common in the industry. They told me to call the Certified Gold Exchange, Inc in Fort Worth, Texas. I spoke with Mr C there and was impressed that their quote was above the spot price (because I was hoping to get the spot price). They explained that American Eagles buy back at over spot and I said not with all the other dealers I called. I shipped the metals to their New York depository following the Certified Gold Exchange's instructions. Candace at CGE tracked the package every step of the way and I was updated along the way. Then when my metals arrived at the Certified Gold Exchange depository they told me that several of my coins were actually American Eagle Proof coins, not the bullion version I thought I had. They increased their original quote by $3000.00 dollars! Shocking that a company would be so honest because they could have just sent the original amount and I would have been happy. Needless to say I will never deal with a different metals dealer except the Certified Gold Exchange. Their gold IRA team is the best by leaps and bounds. I highly recommend Candice, Mr. C and the CGE team to any one looking to buy or sell metals with a great experience. Americans trusted source For Gold is not just a tagline with these folks.ted okolowiczted okolowicz ★★★★★ After searching and checking out different metals companies, I decided that Certified Gold Exchange Inc. was my choice. They have exceeded my expectations and made my IRA rollover easier than I thought.You can be very confident by the way every step was handled (very professional).So kudos to the whole TEAM and thank youJoseph GlassmanJoseph Glassman ★★★★★ I had a very good experience with Certified Gold Exchange and I highly recommend anyone considering a IRA Rollover into precious metals, talk to David White at Certified and do business with them. They are honest and will have your best interest as their concern.. David took care of my needs completely with honest and fair pricing. I shopped around and decided on Certified.Lefty and Mary JamoraLefty and Mary Jamora ★★★★★ Thank you David and Pat for educating us on the gold and silver markets. Pat especially helped us thru our first purchase of silver.M PhommahaxayM Phommahaxay ★★★★★ So glad I found CGE! Although, they don’t do business in my state, David White was so kind to take the time out of his busy schedule to educate me on precious metal investing. His advice was extremely valuable which saved me a ton of money. I would definitely recommend and refer any of my friends or family members interested in investing in precious metals in their service area. So thankful for David and this company!Rickey JohnsonRickey Johnson ★★★★★ My experience so far with Certified Gold Exchange was all very positive. Everything went smoothly and P. Collins was awesome in helping us navigate through the process.Aaron BrabhamAaron Brabham ★★★★★ I called Certified Gold Exchange to get information on a crypto currency IRA. I had a ton of questions and Steve not only answered all of them but also informed me of many things I had not thought of.I decided to invest $60k and in just three months it's over $120k! Not only that, the team at Certified Gold Exchange has excellent customer service.I highly recommend them.Mark OLearyMark OLeary ★★★★★ Philip with the certified gold exchange was incredibly helpful in helping me to setup a Cryptocurrency IRA. He knew exactly what questions to ask my existing custodian to make the rollover as seamless as possible. In just a short few months with the recommendations of Philip; I have already seen over a 250% return on my investment. Highly recommended.Gal TabGal Tab ★★★★★ The reason I give it the maximum stars is because everything happened just the way they planned it. I invested a considerable sum of money with them and as anyone would be, I was a little scared. I did my research and They came highly recommended as being ethical brokers. Their fees are very competitive and look forward to doing more business with them.Diana FincherDiana Fincher ★★★★★ I rolled over my IRA into Silver a couple of years ago and made a friend! Agent Pat C, Certified Gold Exchange, Inc., has far exceeded my expectations with continuing, careful watch over my investment. He always surprises with immediate personal response to my slightest question and inspires confidence to hold to The Plan. Pat’s personal touch and excellent recall is reassuring and has proven that he will keep me informed when any changes are advised. Ask for Pat - he’s excellent, excellent!Steve AstinSteve Astin ★★★★★ This was the 3rd company I called and by far the most professional. Thanks Patrick for the great service!Alicia O'RearAlicia O'Rear ★★★★☆ Thank you for donating 16 bibles for our foster children at Albuquerque Christian Children's Home! This is a wonderful company with a heart for ministry.Kyle SandersKyle Sanders ★★★★★ I was interested in doing a gold IRA rollover and contacted several firms after researching on the web. Certified Gold Exchange's website had the most useful information by far compared to other firms. Their representatives have been a pleasure to work with--professional, answered every question I had, and I'd recommend them to anyone looking at a gold IRA rollover.Robby BryantRobby Bryant ★★★★★ I am a Certified Financial Planner, and Certified Gold Exchange has helped us purchase gold for 16 years without a hitch for our clients and at excellent prices. We couldn’t be more satisfied!Anne SayreAnne Sayre ★★★★★ My husband and I were thrilled with the service we received at Certified Gold Exchange! Shipping our gold to us was quick and very simple. So happy we did not have to pay for the TV advertisements with celebrities like so many of the other precious metal companies. We will be buying again from CGE!Neenah PayneNeenah Payne ★★★★★ Certified Gold Exchange, Inc. is a highly professional firm that was a pleasure to do business with. It provides fast and accurate service. The firm went out of its way to be helpful on a number of key issues. I highly recommend them. I was extremely lucky for several reasons to have called the Certified Gold Exchange, Inc. when I was ready to sell my gold and silver coins. When I called the firm, Liam on the service desk explained that they scan hundreds of gold dealers to get me the best price. That was very comforting.When I spoke with coin dealer David White, he was able to give me a quote in 3.5 hours. He also explained the importance of shipping my coins via registered mail with the Post Office. David said that the Post Office requires a registered box to be sealed with brown paper tape to prevent tampering. David emailed me links to sites that showed the right tape to use and how to seal the box. He called several UPS stores in my neighborhood to try to find the tape for me. In the end, I bought the tape from the Post Office. David explained that while Fedex and UPS would ship the coins, since they are not allowed to ship gold or silver, I would have no recourse if my coins were lost. David even gave me his home number so I could reach him after hours if necessary.My experience with Certified Gold Exchange, Inc. stands in stark contrast with how two other coin brokers responded. The firm from which I had bought most of my silver coins never called me back. On November 13 when I called the broker from whom I had bought most of my gold coins, I couldn't get through on the phone. So, I emailed them and it took 5 days for them to respond! The broker didn't give me a quote until December 2 -- and then only for some of the coins! He said he would tell me what they would pay for the other coins after I shipped them!In addition, that broker explained that one of their customers had lost all their coins valued at $22,000 because the box was tampered with and they had failed to insure them for the full amount. However, I knew by then that if the firm had told the customer to ship the coins via registered mail as Certified Gold Exchange, Inc. does, the box could not have been tampered with.So, Certified Gold Exchange, Inc. is the only gold and silver dealer I recommend. The level of service is truly remarkable.Jovita GarcesJovita Garces ★★★★★ What do you do with what little you have to put away for the future? After my divorce 16 years ago, I decided I needed to find an IRA and invest my children's money into something that would retain and grow in value through the years. I found a great website called Certified Gold Exchange that intrigued me and when I called, John listened and understood my needs and helped me understand the value of investing in rare coins and precious metals before taking that all important step. I am happy I took a leap of faith knowing the prospect for growth in my precious metals IRA and children's funds for college and maybe first home some day was very real. I believe I made the best choice for our future. I can always trust CGE to give me honest and dependable service everytime I call in them.Maria SMaria S ★★★★★ Patrick Collins and Certified Gold Exchange (CGE) Team: I appreciate the support, you took me on for this transaction when I wasn’t even an existing client. (Yes I know CGE made some money). It was you manner, caring and fast response that made me feel very comfortable with you.Your interest in helping me on such short notice shows how much you care for your clients. I hope 🤞 to have you as one of my financial team in the future.js_loader
Protect Your Retirement!
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Secure your retirement! Avoid these 10 Gold IRA scams.

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    We do not allow visitors to our call centers. 
    The Certified Gold Exchange is a national volume discount dealer supplying popular bullion and PCGS certified coins. Since 2020 most of our representatives work remotely. We no longer allow visitors to our Fort Worth Call Center but you can still get the same great service by calling.
       Our institutional staff does take visits from bank, and corporate clients. 
                 To learn more about this policy please call 800-300-0715

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