June 7, 2023

Pros and Cons of a Gold IRA. Precious Metals Information Investors looking for Alternative Investment Choices

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Wealth Protection Guide - 2023


Diversify Beyond the Ordinary: Unleash the Potential of Physical Gold IRAs

In today's dynamic investment landscape, individuals are increasingly seeking more control over their retirement savings and exploring alternative options beyond traditional IRAs. One such avenue that has gained significant attention is the self-directed IRA (SDIRA), which empowers investors to take charge of their investment decisions. Within the realm of SDIRAs, physical gold IRAs have emerged as a compelling choice, allowing individuals to diversify their retirement portfolios with precious metals.

Unlike conventional IRAs, which typically limit investment options to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, SDIRAs offer a broader range of investment opportunities. This opens the door for astute investors to explore alternative assets, including real estate, private equity, cryptocurrencies, and, of course, physical gold. In this blog post, we will delve into the pros and cons of physical gold IRAs, shedding light on the potential benefits and considerations associated with this investment approach.

Gold IRAs Pros and Cons - Overview


  • Diversification and Risk Mitigation
  • Preserving Wealth and Inflation Protection
  • Tangible Asset and Safe Haven
  • Tax Advantages of an IRA
  • Long Term Growth Potential
  • Full Control of the Account and Purchase Options


  • Custodian and Storage Fees
  • Illiquidity and Limited Accessibility
  • Counterparty Risk and Fraud Potential
  • Opportunity Cost and No Income Potential
  • No Income, Dividends, or Yields
  • Cannot invest in numismatic coins or rounds

What is a Gold IRA?

A Gold IRA, a.k.a a precious metals IRA, A Silver IRA, or a self-directed IRA, is a specialized retirement account that allows individuals to invest in physical gold and other precious metals as part of their long-term investment strategy. Unlike traditional IRAs, which typically include a range of financial assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, a Gold IRA focuses specifically on the inclusion of buying physical precious metals.

By definition: A Gold IRA is a self-directed individual retirement account that allows investors to allocate a portion of their retirement savings into physical gold, such as gold bars and coins, as well as other approved precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium. These precious metals are held within the IRA, offering potential benefits for diversification, wealth preservation, and protection against inflation.

Key Features and Considerations:

  1. Self-Directed Nature: A Gold IRA empowers investors to have greater control and decision-making authority over their retirement savings. With a self-directed IRA, individuals can personally choose the types and quantities of precious metals they wish to include in their portfolio, rather than relying solely on traditional financial instruments.
  2. IRS-Approved Custodian: To establish and maintain a Gold IRA, it is necessary to work with an IRS-approved custodian or trustee. These specialized custodians facilitate the administration, compliance, and storage of the physical precious metals on behalf of the account holder. It is crucial to select a reputable and trusted custodian to ensure the compliance and security of your investment.
  3. Diversification Benefits: Adding physical gold and other precious metals to an investment portfolio can provide diversification benefits. Gold, in particular, has historically shown a low correlation with other asset classes, such as stocks and bonds. This means that during market downturns or economic uncertainties, gold may act as a hedge, potentially helping to reduce overall portfolio volatility and provide stability.
  4. Preservation of Wealth: Gold has long been considered a store of value, capable of preserving purchasing power over time. By including gold in a retirement account, individuals aim to safeguard their wealth against the erosion caused by inflation and currency devaluation. The stability and enduring value of gold make it an attractive asset for long-term wealth preservation.
  5. Tax Advantages: Gold IRAs offer the same tax advantages as traditional IRAs. Contributions to a Gold IRA may be tax-deductible, depending on the account type (Traditional IRA) and the individual's eligibility. Additionally, the growth and gains within the Gold IRA are typically tax-deferred until withdrawals are made during retirement.

For precious metals to qualify for your SDIRA they must meet the IRS-specific standards. 

  • Gold must be 99.5% pure
  • Silver must be 99.9% pure
  • Platinum must be 99.95% pure
  • Palladium must be 99.95% pure

Not all gold and silver coins qualify. Make sure you double-check the qualifications before you buy. 

What's Required When Setting Up a Gold IRA?

When investing in alternative assets like physical gold and silver and you want to keep the money in a retirement IRA you need to set up a self-directed IRA. The three main decisions when starting your Gold IRA, are:

  1. Custodian (Sets Up Your IRA)
  2. Where to Buy (Gold Dealer)
  3. Where to Store (Secured Storage Facility)

To start, you will need to choose a custodian for your Gold IRA. Choosing a gold IRA custodian can be easy or complex. Choosing a Gold Dealer, like Goldco or Augusta Precious Metals, can make your set-up quick and easy. Companies that specialize in Gold IRAs have custodians that they work with and they will even complete a majority of the paperwork for you. 

If you choose to start a Gold SDIRA first you will need to find a qualified custodian. Custodians working with precious metals have to be approved. Make sure you are working with a custodian who specializes in gold and silver IRAs. 

Next, you will need to choose where to buy your gold or silver from. Make sure you are choosing a business that has experience working with a precious metals IRA and custodians. Gold IRA dealers are again good options for this, but you don't need to buy from a "popular" online dealer. Any retailer that sells precious metals and one who has experience with precious metals IRA can assist. 

And last, you will need to find a secured storage facility. When you purchase precious metals within your IRA the IRS requires you to store your metals in a secured storage facility. You cannot take personal possession of the coins or bars.

Recommended Allocation to a Gold IRA?

A precious metals IRA with gold and silver coins should account for 5-10% of your overall portfolio as noted by Forbes in their "Precious Metal IRA: How to Invest For Retirement With Gold and Silver" article. 

While this figure varies depending on what financial advisor you follow or article you read, we at The Plug agree a balanced portfolio should have around 5% allocated to precious metals. 

Remember why you are purchasing your metals. You are hedging inflation, taking some of your retirement savings out of the stock market, having physical assets not influenced by others, and protecting your retirement account with a "safe haven" option. 

Physical gold and silver investing is a long-term plan. You cannot look at the returns daily to see the potential future opportunity value. You are using physical gold as a counter and a secured investment option outside the traditional markets. Physical gold and silver or other precious metals can lose value if you try to buy and sell physical gold in the short term. Over the past 30 years, gold has increased in value by 400%. Where will it be in another 30 years?

Withdrawing from a Gold IRA: Penalties and Distribution Options

Withdrawing funds from a gold IRA involves careful consideration of the applicable penalties and distribution options. Whether you're nearing retirement age or facing unexpected financial needs, understanding the rules and regulations surrounding early withdrawals is crucial. In this section, we'll explore the penalties associated with withdrawing from a gold IRA before 59 and 1/2 years and outline the available distribution options for investors.

Penalties for Early Withdrawals:

  1. Early Distribution Penalty: Generally, if you withdraw funds from a gold IRA or any retirement IRA before reaching 59 and 1/2 years of age, you may be subject to an early distribution penalty of 10% on the taxable amount. This penalty is imposed in addition to any applicable income taxes. However, there are certain exceptions and circumstances in which the penalty may be waived or reduced, such as for qualifying medical expenses or first-time home purchases.
  2. Taxation: Withdrawals from a traditional gold IRA are generally subject to income tax. The tax is based on the individual's ordinary income tax rate at the time of withdrawal. Roth gold IRAs, on the other hand, offer potential tax-free withdrawals if certain conditions are met, such as having a qualified account for at least five years.

Distribution Options:

  1. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Once an investor reaches 72 years of age (or 70 and 1/2 for those born before July 1, 1949), they are generally required to start taking minimum distributions from their traditional gold IRA. The RMD amount is calculated based on life expectancy tables and the account balance. Failure to take RMDs as required may result in substantial tax penalties.
  2. Systematic Withdrawals: Investors have the option to set up systematic withdrawals from their gold IRA. This approach allows for regular, scheduled distributions, providing a consistent income stream while still maintaining the IRA account and its investment holdings.
  3. Lump-Sum Withdrawals: Investors also have the choice to take a lump-sum distribution from their gold IRA. This involves withdrawing the entire account balance in a single transaction. It's important to consider the tax implications and potential impact on long-term retirement planning when opting for a lump-sum withdrawal.
  4. Gold Distributions or Cash: You have the option with your withdrawals to take the metals or sell the metals and take the cash distributions. Choosing the metals you can continue to hold the metals at a private home safe or you can choose to sell them to local coin dealers. Most of the Gold IRA companies, such as those found in our review of the 5 Best Gold IRA Companies will likely buy back any metals you purchased through them. If you purchased from other dealers, most will buy back metals that are high in demand, the process can be more involved and include appraisals of the metals. 

When considering withdrawing from a gold IRA, it's essential to be aware of the potential penalties for early withdrawals and the various distribution options available. Early withdrawals before the age of 59 and 1/2 may result in a 10% early distribution penalty, in addition to income taxes.

Understanding the rules and exceptions surrounding early withdrawals can help investors make informed decisions. Additionally, selecting the appropriate distribution option, such as systematic withdrawals or lump-sum distributions, should align with an investor's financial goals, retirement plans, and tax considerations.

To ensure accurate and personalized information regarding your specific situation, it is advisable to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional who can provide guidance tailored to your circumstances and assist you in navigating the withdrawal process from a gold IRA.

Final Thoughts on Gold IRAs

In conclusion, a Gold IRA presents both pros and cons that investors should carefully consider when evaluating their retirement investment strategies. By weighing the advantages and disadvantages, individuals can make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

The pros of a Gold IRA are compelling. The opportunity to diversify beyond traditional assets and incorporate physical gold and other precious metals offers potential benefits such as risk mitigation, wealth preservation, and protection against inflation. The historical stability and long-term growth potential of gold make it an attractive option for those seeking to safeguard their portfolios against market volatility and economic uncertainties.

While there are cons to be mindful of, such as market volatility and storage costs, these drawbacks can be managed with proper planning and consideration. The illiquidity of physical gold and the lack of income generation should be weighed against the potential benefits it brings to a diversified retirement portfolio and the tax advantages of holding your gains till your tax bracket is lower is a positive approach. 

For investors with substantial investment portfolios, especially those with over $100,000 in assets, opening a Gold IRA and allocating a percentage of their funds to precious metals can be a prudent move. It allows them to tap into the benefits of diversification and potentially enhance their long-term returns. By working with a reputable IRA custodian or trustee, individuals can navigate the process of establishing a Gold IRA and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

As with any investment decision, investors must conduct thorough research, assess their financial goals and risk tolerance, and consult with financial advisors to determine the most suitable course of action. Those who recognize the value of diversification and seek to fortify their retirement portfolios may find that a Gold IRA provides an appealing avenue for long-term growth and wealth preservation.

Remember, every investor's situation is unique, and it is essential to evaluate the pros and cons of a Gold IRA in the context of your individual financial goals and circumstances. By making well-informed decisions and taking advantage of professional guidance, you can position yourself for a secure and prosperous retirement.

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