Watch CBS News

What is a gold IRA?

A gold IRA can help protect against inflation. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Recent bank closures, stubborn inflation and a potential recession are cause for concern for many Americans, many of whom are reassessing their investments. Historically, in times of economic uncertainty, many investors turn to gold to diversify their portfolios and hedge against inflation.

One common way to invest in gold is through a gold individual retirement account (IRA). These accounts are self-directed and have the same tax benefits as standard IRAs. Before you start the process, it's essential to understand what a gold IRA is, how it works and its potential advantages and disadvantages.

You can quickly get started by requesting a free gold information kit to learn more now.

What is a gold IRA?

A gold IRA is a retirement account that holds physical gold, silver and other precious metals rather than traditional stocks and bonds. Many investors turn to gold IRAs to diversify their portfolios and potentially protect against inflation.

Generally, there are three types of gold IRAs: Traditional, Roth and SEP. With a traditional IRA, you fund your account with pre-tax dollars, but you must pay taxes once you withdraw funds in retirement. Conversely, Roth gold IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars, and you can make tax-free retirement distributions.

If you're self-employed or operate your own business, a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) gold IRA may make sense. With this option, you'll fund your SEP gold IRA with pre-tax dollars and contribute to your employees' accounts as well.

If you want to add a gold shine to your retirement plans, you must adhere to IRS rules concerning the denominations and specifications of your gold.

How does a gold IRA work?

When you open a gold IRA, your gold will need to meet three requirements:

  1. A custodian must hold the gold in a protected depository. Typically, you'll work with a custodian specializing in gold IRA accounts to set up your account and arrange for the purchase and storage of your gold.
  2. A national government mint or approved manufacturer must produce the gold. American Eagle coins, Canadian Maple Leaf coins and PAMP Suisse bars are examples of IRA-eligible gold.
  3. Gold must be 99.5% pure. American Eagle coins, which are 91.67% pure, are an exception to this rule.

Gold IRAs are commonly used to hold physical gold, but you can also include gold stocks, gold mutual funds and ETFs that monitor gold indexes.

Learn more about your gold investing options here now

What are the benefits of investing in a gold IRA?

Gold IRAs come with numerous benefits, such as:

  • Diversify your holdings: Adding a gold IRA to your portfolio may help diversify your investments to spread out risk.
  • Offer tax advantages: Just like standard IRAs, a traditional gold IRA can reduce your annual taxable income while a Roth IRA enables you to make qualified withdrawals tax-free in retirement.
  • Act as a safe haven: Gold is often seen as a safe haven asset that tends to hold its value when there is economic duress or market volatility.
  • Protect against inflation: Historically, gold has had an inverse relationship with the value of the dollar. As such, the value of gold tends to rise when the dollar's value declines, and vice-versa.

How can you open a gold IRA?

Opening a gold IRA involves some extra steps, but the process is still fairly simple.

  1. Select a custodian that specializes in gold IRAs: You'll need to work with an IRS-approved custodian, which is a financial institution that holds and manages the assets within your IRA.
  2. Fund your account: You can make a new contribution or roll over funds from a qualified retirement plan.
  3. Decide which assets to include in your gold IRA: Choose any combination of gold stocks, gold funds, gold ETFs, and physical gold you wish. Just make sure any gold bars or coins you purchase are IRA-eligible gold.
  4. Buy the gold: Your custodian should facilitate the purchase of gold and ensure it is stored in an approved depository.

If you're considering opening a gold IRA, many gold IRA companies can help you with the process. As with most investments, it's wise to shop and compare some of the top gold companies to find the best one to assist you. You can use the table below to explore your options. 

Potential drawbacks of investing in a gold IRA

While gold IRAs come with numerous benefits, they aren't for everyone. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider before you invest your money.

  • Higher fees than traditional IRAs: You may incur fees for account setup, annual maintenance, storage, insurance, custodial and more.
  • Gold volatility: Before investing in gold IRAs, consider your risk tolerance level, as this precious metal's price can swing significantly.
  • Requirements can be confusing. Gold IRA requirements are more complex than traditional IRAs, and you must understand the specifications for IRA-eligible gold. While many investors can set up their own accounts, others find it helpful to get assistance from a reputable gold IRA provider.

The bottom line

A gold IRA is one option if you're looking to add gold to your portfolio. A gold IRA's primary benefits are that it can diversify your portfolio and potentially act as a hedge against inflation.

You can set up an account yourself or enlist the help of a gold IRA company. It's a good idea to consult your accountant or financial advisor beforehand to make sure the investment fits within your overall strategy. Learn more about gold IRAs here now.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.