These are the best gold IRAs for investors of all experience levels

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Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are a common way to save for retirement for those who either don’t have access to a 401(k) or want to supplement them. IRAs offer tax benefits and encourage account holders to leave funds untouched by imposing early withdrawal fees for attempting to access the money before turning 59 and a half.

IRAs come in various forms and are not always tied to stocks and bonds. If you’re looking to diversify your retirement savings and help protect yourself against inflation, you may consider gold IRAs. Plus, gold IRAs can include a range of precious metals aside from just gold.

Here, CNBC Select reviews a range of top-rated gold IRAs with low initial purchase requirements, transparent fees and other useful features to find the best accounts for a variety of investors. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best gold IRAs.)

Best gold IRA companies

Best for cost transparency

Birch Gold Group

  • Initial Purchase Requirements

    Minimum initial purchase requirement of $10,000

  • Account Minimums

    Minimum account balance of $10,000

  • Fees

    Account Set Up Fee: $50

  • Storage/Insurance: $100

  • Management Fees: $100

Terms apply.

Pros

  • On new accounts of more than $50,000, Birch Gold will pay first year’s fees.
  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • AAA Business Consumer Alliance rating
  • Easy to locate fees
  • Offers account transfers from a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, eligible 401(k) and more

Cons

  • Flat fees aren’t as friendly to smaller investors
  • Asset transfers can take up to three weeks to complete

Who’s this for? Birch Gold Group gold IRAs are ideal for people who want upfront transparency about some of the costs associated with an account. Birch states on its website the recommended minimum for investing and lays out the fees associated with your account creation and maintenance.

Standout benefits: Birch Gold Group offers a range of precious metal products, helpful educational resources for investors as well as high ratings from the BBB and BCA.

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Best for large deposits

GoldCo

  • Initial Purchase Requirements

    Minimum purchase requirement of $25,000

  • Account Minimums

    Minimum account balance of $25,000

  • Fees

    Account set-up fee of $50

  • Annual account administration fee of $80

  • Storage fees of $100 or $150 depending on storage type

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Live chat
  • Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau
  • Rated Triple A by the Business Consumer Alliance
  • Highest buy-back price guarantee
  • Charges flat rates for storage fees and maintenance
  • Offers a free Wealth Protection Kit in addition to articles and market insights

Cons

  • $25,000 minimum investment
  • Only offers gold and silver

Who’s this for? GoldCo is an all-around solid gold IRA option with the highest ratings from both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) of the companies we reviewed. GoldCo allows rollovers from several types of accounts including 401(k), 403(b), TSP, savings or IRA accounts. However, its initial purchase requirement is on the higher end.

Standout benefits: GoldCo offers customers a “Highest BuyBack Guarantee,” which promises to buy back your metals at the highest price when it’s time. In addition to customer support over the phone, it also offers a live chat service to help with any of your gold IRA questions. New customers can receive up to 5% to 10% back in free silver when meeting certain purchase minimums.

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Best for low purchase requirement

Rosland Capital

  • Initial purchase requirements

    Minimum purchase requirement of $2,000

  • Account minimums

    Minimum account balance of $2,000

  • Fees

    $50 one-time set-up fee

  • Annual $100 Maintenance fee

  • Storage Fees of $100 or $150 per year, depending on the type of storage chosen

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Offers separate secure storage for your gold
  • Flat rate fees
  • Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau
  • Rated AAA by the Business Consumer Alliance

Cons

  • Lack of investing resources
  • Website is older and can feel more cluttered

Who’s this for? Rosland Capital‘s gold IRA account is ideal for those who are looking to invest a lower amount of money in their initial purchase. Unlike some other companies that require upwards of $10,000 for the initial purchase, Rosland Capital only requires a $2,000 minimum purchase.

Standout benefits: Rosland Capital meets the highest standards set in place by the BBB and BCA and offers different storage options for your gold, with each IRA-holder’s gold kept in separate, secure storage. Plus, through June 30, 2024, new customers can get $1,000 in free gold per $20,000 in qualifying purchases, up to $300,000 in purchases (up to $15,000 in free products).

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Best for experienced investors

American Hartford Gold

  • Initial Purchase Requirements

    Minimum purchase requirement of $10,000

  • Account Minimums

    Minimum account balance of $10,000

  • Fees

    Annual IRA fee of $75 for accounts valued at $100,000 or less, $125 for accounts valued at $100,001 or more

  • Storage fee varies with the depository but typically is a flat $100 annual storage fee in most cases

Terms apply.

Pros

  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Orders are shipped free of charge
  • Offers a free Gold & Silver Information Guide
  • No initial fee for account setup

Cons

  • Lack of educational resources on their site
  • AA Business Consumer Alliance rating (AAA is the best)
  • The website feels slightly dated and straightforward

Who’s this for? American Hartford Gold is geared toward more experienced investors as its website doesn’t have as many resources or educational aspects as some others. In addition, it has tiered fees so for accounts valued at $100,000 or less you’ll only pay $75 in annual fees, but for accounts valued at $100,001 or more, you’ll pay $125. This is a significant percentage increase in fees, so it’s important to know exactly how much you should be keeping in your IRA and to monitor the fees properly.

Standout benefits: American Hartford carries an A+ rating from the BBB and an AA rating from the BCA which is one step down from their highest ranking. American Hartford will also allow you to easily rollover an existing IRA to an IRA backed with gold which bypasses the need to make another additional deposit.

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Best for educational resources

American Bullion

  • Initial Purchase Requirements

  • Account Minimums

  • Fees

    $25 set-up fee. 

  • $160 annual account fee.

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Free Storage and no custodian account fees for the first year on accounts of $50,000 or more
  • Offers free investment guides and other educational resources
  • Stored in the Delaware Depository and monitored 24/7, 365 days a year
  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • AAA Business Consumer Alliance rating

Cons

  • Only available to contact through phone and email, no live chat option

Who’s this for? American Bullion offers gold IRAs geared toward those looking for educational resources on precious metals. It offers materials on precious metal investing information, IRA educational aspects, pension plan information and a free gold guide available for download

Standout benefits: American Bullion has a team of experts who can provide you with the facts needed to make an informed decision with the ownership of your precious metals. You can also potentially roll over some more non-traditional existing accounts such as a 403(b), 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan, Pension Plan and more.

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Best for customer service

Monetary Gold

  • Initial Purchase Requirements

    The minimum investment to open a Gold IRA is $5,000-$10,000 depending on the custodian you choose

  • Account Minimums

    $5,000-$10,000 depending on the custodian you choose

  • Fees

    Annual Storage & Insurance fee is $100 for up to $100,000 of gold  and $1 for every $1000 of gold after $100,000

Terms apply.

Pros

  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • AAA Business Consumer Alliance rating
  • Offers free shipping and 24/7 client assistance

Cons

  • Minimal educational resources and out-of-date news
  • Fees will rise as you invest more money

Who’s this for? Monetary Gold is a top choice for inventors looking for an extra level of customer service. Outside of its standard operating hours, its website mentions 24/7 client concierge services and offers a chat option. It received an A+ rating from the BBB and an AAA rating from the BCA, as well as high ratings on various consumer review websites.

Standout benefits: The company offers a retirement calculator to help you better navigate the rules and regulations provided by the IRS and other agencies.

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More on our top gold IRA companies

Birch Gold Group

Birch Gold Group has been in business since 2003 and boasts stellar ratings by both the BBB and BCA. It is a great choice for investors who value transparent pricing as its website makes its fees especially easy to locate and understand.

Initial Purchase Requirement

$10,000

Fees

One-time account setup fee of $50

Annual storage and insurance fee of $100

Annual management fee of $100

Other perks and drawbacks

While Birch Gold Group’s annual fees are on the higher end, Birch Gold Group will pay the first year’s fees for clients who are willing to transfer over $50,000 to its precious metal IRA. Birch Gold Group also guarantees flat fees and that you will never pay more than $200 in annual fees regardless of the size of your account.

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GoldCo

GoldCo IRAs lean towards investors who are willing to contribute larger sums due to its $25,000 initial purchase requirement. It is a reputable company with an A+ BBB rating and AAA BCA rating. In addition to gold, it allows you to diversify your investments with other precious metals, such as silver, platinum and palladium

Initial Purchase Requirement

$25,000

Fees

One-time account setup fee of $50

Annual account fee of $80

Storage fees ranging from $100 to $150

Other perks and drawbacks

GoldCo only charges flat-rate fees meaning that your expenditure pertaining to fees will not change regardless of your account balance. The $100 storage fee is when your gold is pooled together with other customers, and the $150 is when you opt for your gold to be stored separately in an individual vault.

When it’s time to withdraw from your account, you can take your distributions either as a cash payment or in the form of precious metals. While GoldCo can’t guarantee future results, it does promise to buy back your metals at the highest price.

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Rosland Capital

Rosland Capital provides one of the lowest initial purchase requirements of only $2,000 which is a great option for those who might not want to contribute as much as other gold IRA services require. This allows for a more flexible gold IRA at a lower amount that can be expanded upon down the line.

Initial Purchase Requirement

$2,000

Fees

A one-time account set-up fee of $50

Annual maintenance fee of $100

Storage Fees of $100 or $150 per year, depending on the type of storage chosen.

Other perks and drawbacks

Rosland Capital offers high ratings from the BBB and BCA as well as a detailed six-step procedure for how to get started with your gold IRA through its services. It also stands out for offering new customers a valuable welcome bonus. However, it lacks slightly in its educational resources compared to other available options.

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American Hartford Gold

American Hartford Gold is an interesting option for more experienced investors not only due to the higher initial investment required of $10,000 as opposed to the $2,000 required by Rosland Capital but also due to the more streamlined approach to its website. While they do offer a free 2024 information guide, its overall informational offerings are less robust than others.

Initial Purchase Requirement

$10,000

Fees

Annual fee of $75 for accounts valued at $100,000 or less, $125 for accounts valued at $100,001 or more

$100 annual storage fee in most cases

Other perks and drawbacks

One of the major differences that we see between American Hartford and other offerings is its fee system. Often we see a flat rate fee for management of a gold IRA, but in this case, the fee increases for accounts with a higher value which is something to keep in mind if you anticipate contributing a significant amount to your gold IRA. As for setup fees, they aren’t guaranteed but may vary depending on the custodian and other individualized choices. American Hartford also comes with an A+ and AA rating from the BBB and the BCA respectively and is ranked 423rd on Inc’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies of 2023 with 1,369% growth over the past 3 years.

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American Bullion

American Bullion was founded in 2009 and is another trusted gold IRA provider that stands out for its educational resources available to investors.

Initial Purchase Requirement

While there is no official requirement, American Bullion recommends a minimum rollover amount of $10,000 to compensate for fees associated with the process

Fees

A one-time set-up fee of $25

Annual account fee of $160

Other perks and drawbacks

American Bullion‘s annual account fee is on the higher end compared to some other options. That being said, there are fewer other fees and American Bullion will waive the first year’s storage and custodian fees for those who create, transfer, or roll over accounts with a value of $50,000 or more.

American Bullion has the highest rating from both the BBB and BCA and offers a free gold IRA buyers guide for those looking for more information. Customer support is available via phone and email, but unlike some competitors, not chat.

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Monetary Gold

Founded in 2000, Monetary Gold is a trusted choice for superior customer support, with high marks from the BBB, AAA and other consumer review websites. Like some other gold IRA providers, it partners with the Delaware Depository Service Company (DDSC) for storage, but its fee structure is unique compared to other offerings.

Initial Purchase Requirement

$5,000 to $10,000, depending on the custodian you choose

Fees

Annual storage and insurance fee is $100 for up to $100,000 of gold and $1 for every $1,000 of gold thereafter

Other perks and drawbacks

Monetary Gold works swiftly in terms of account setup, only taking 48 to 72 hours to open after processing begins. It offers free workshops and consultations with an advisor as well as some modest investing resources such as retirement calculators, price charts and market news. However, certain resources can be hard to find on its website and some content we came across was significantly out-of-date.

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Compare investing resources

How to choose a gold IRA

Determining what types of products you intend to buy is a good starting place as not all sites will offer every kind of IRA-approved precious metals. While gold coins and bars are a popular option, it’s also important to note that storage costs will be higher with physical gold as well as other physical metal investments.

It’s also important to consider your goals for this investment. Are you looking for long-term growth, or are you aiming for short-term stability from fluctuating markets? This will not only impact your decision on how much you are planning to invest, but where and what you’re investing in as well.

What makes a gold IRA different than a traditional IRA?

Investing specifically in a gold IRA account could help you further prepare yourself for retirement while also being able to invest your money into precious metals. Gold IRAs follow the same contribution limits as traditional IRAs, $7,000 for 2024, or, if you’re 50 or older, $8,000. That being said, gold IRAs do come with some of their own rules and regulations around what types of gold can belong in your IRA amongst other requirements.

Under the precious metals IRA rules, you must work with a custodian — a financial institution responsible for the assets in your gold IRA. In addition, there are a few other stipulations, such as that the precious metals must also have a certain purity requirement, be produced by an approved refinery and be in their original packaging.

Gold IRAs are often referred to as “precious metal” IRAs as well due to the fact that you can own more than gold; you can invest in gold, silver, platinum as well as palladium. Not every precious metal IRA provider is going to offer the same variety of metals, which is an important consideration when investing.

Other types of IRAs to consider

There are a few other very common types of IRAs, with the most common being a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. While they won’t let you directly invest in physical precious metals, depending on your needs, they might work as well.

A traditional IRA allows you to delay your taxes on any contributions made to your IRA account until you withdraw the money down the line. This type of IRA is typically most effective if you anticipate being in a lower tax bracket when you retire, thus paying less when you withdraw the money than you would have before in addition to benefiting from any interest gained.

A Roth IRA works in a similar way but instead of waiting to pay taxes on withdrawals, you pay tax upfront and not in the future when you take out the money. These are often more effective for people who are younger in their careers and in a lower tax bracket currently, then when they end up earning significantly more towards the end of their career, they aren’t paying their current tax rate on the money they take out.

Both of these IRA options allow you to invest in gold and other metals, but just not physically. You can invest in gold stocks and ETFs as well as the stocks of gold mining or processing companies. While oftentimes this is significantly easier than the process of investing in physical gold, you don’t necessarily get the benefits people are looking for from physical gold such as the inherent intrinsic value as well as the protection from economic downturns.

FAQs

What is a gold IRA?

A gold IRA is a specialized individual retirement account (IRA) that allows investors to hold gold and other precious metals in an IRS-approved retirement investment. While a gold IRA must be kept separate from traditional retirement accounts, many of the regulations like contribution limits remain the same.

What does a gold IRA do?

A gold IRA acts very similarly to a traditional IRA account but allows the individual to purchase gold and other metals as opposed to just more common assets such as stocks or bonds.

Can I buy physical gold for my IRA?

It is possible to buy physical gold coins and bars for your IRA provided they meet the IRS standard for precious metals. In addition, it is highly recommended by the IRS that you do not store your gold at home with many complex laws to enforce this procedure.

What are the requirements for metals in a retirement account?

Since precious metals are considered collectibles, they must meet special requirements to be allowed in IRA accounts. You can purchase IRA-approved gold bullion coins and bars with a fineness of .995 or higher, including American Eagles and other select coins. Other precious metals also have minimum purity requirements as well.

Is a gold IRA tax-free?

A gold IRA follows similar rules and regulations to a traditional IRA including not being taxed when you contribute, and being taxed when you take a distribution including the 10% penalty if withdrawn before 59 and one half years old.

Bottom line

A gold IRA is a great option for those who wish to be able to own physical precious metals as part of their retirement plan. Precious metals IRAs have various initial purchase requirements as well as other fees and purchasing options, so it’s important to select the one with the options that fit your needs the best.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every IRA review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of financial products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best gold IRAs.

Our methodology

To determine which gold individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are the best for investors, CNBC Select analyzed and compared gold IRAs offered by numerous companies. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those that have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of A or better, a Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) rating of double A or higher and a maximum initial purchase requirement of $25,000 or less.

We also compared each IRA on the following features:

  • Account fees: Each gold IRA option’s fees were taken into consideration and accounts with little transparency or unnecessary fees were not considered.
  • A hub of educational resources: We opted for gold IRAs with various levels of educational resources to help you educate yourself about investing in precious metals.
  • Ease-of-use: Whether accessing your gold IRA via your laptop at home or on your smartphone while on the go, it’s important to have an easy user experience. We tested each site for user experience as well as the availability of information.
  • Customer support: Every gold IRA on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by what type of investor is the best fit.

Your earnings in a gold IRA depend on any associated fees, the contributions you make to your account and the fluctuations of the market.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.