Disclaimer: The owners of this website may be paid to recommend Goldco or other companies. The content of this website, including any positive reviews of Goldco & other reviews, may not be neutral or independent. We may receive a commission from the companies we recommend. The content of this site is informational in nature and should not be relied upon without consulting an investment professional.


How Does a Precious Metals IRA Work?

Last Updated: March 20, 2024

When concerns about the economy increase, fears begin to abound. What would happen to your nest egg tied up in the stock market if the stock market fell? Will your 401K lose value?

Many people are asking themselves these questions and more. Investors are diversifying their investment portfolios to protect themselves against devastating losses and seeking a precious metals IRA.

self directed ira precious metals

We have put together this extensive guide to help you understand how precious metals IRAs work and how you can get started. With this information, you will know everything there is to know about investing in physical precious metals.

What Is an IRA in Precious Metals?

A precious metals IRA works much in the same way as a retirement account. An IRA gives you more investment power because you can invest in many IRS-approved precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bars and bullion

People invest in a gold IRA because it gives them tax advantages. You either get advantages when contributing or taking a distribution, depending on the type of IRA.

Nothing will drastically change when switching to a gold IRA. You will still retain beneficiaries, receive quarterly reports, and log in to check your balances and monitor your precious metals.

Attention Americans 50 and Over:

What Are the Types of Precious Metals IRAs?

There are different types of precious metals IRAs, and learning about these types will help you determine which of the precious metals ira companies will be best for your investment needs. We will discuss each of your options below.

Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement account that allows you to make contributions without paying taxes. If you are under 50, the contribution limits are $5,500.

If you are over the age of 60, the contribution limits are $6,500. On a traditional Gold IRA, you will pay taxes with each distribution after retirement.


Voted Best Gold & Silver IRA Companies For Rolling 401K to Gold Penalty Free in 2024

#1: Best For All Level Investors


American Hartford Gold

5 Star customer service, easy to work with, and a low price guarantee.


#2: Best For $50,000+ Investors


Excellent customer service from precious metals experts.

#3: Best For $25,000+ Investors

Augusta Precious Metals

Earned best overall gold IRA company of 2022 by Investopedia's most transparent.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are considered after-tax retirement savings accounts. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes with each contribution. When it comes time to distribute, you will not owe any taxes.



If you are a business owner or self-employed, a SEP IRA allows you to contribute to your accounts or your employees. With SEP Gold IRAs, you will not pay taxes on contributions. You can contribute up to 25% of your income or $53,000 yearly, whichever is lower.


Does Your Current Retirement Account Qualify?

Many types of retirement accounts are eligible for rolling over funds to invest in precious metals. Most of these accounts will be free of any rollover restrictions, though some are restricted.



Rollover or Existing IRA?

You can easily roll over your self-directed IRA to a gold IRA if you have the eligible retirement account options above. You will simply need to contact your administrator to get the process started. Once your account becomes a gold IRA account, you can begin investing in physical gold.

If you do not have an IRA account, opening one is easy. With help from a self-directed IRA custodian, you can open your gold IRA account and begin to purchase precious metals. The right wealth management firm can help you with both options for retirement accounts.

Steps for Getting Started with a Gold IRA

Getting started with a gold IRA account is simple. There are only a few steps involved. Consider the following.

Colorado Gold is a good company, with some drawbacks. Many people will want to purchase gold from a company that offers custodianship and has relationships with depositories, which this company does not.

Once your self-directed IRA has been opened, you will need to fund the account. You can seek IRA funds in several ways, including the following:

IRA Transfer

If you have an existing IRA, you can easily fund the new IRA by conducting an IRA-to-IRA transfer. You will need to complete a Transfer Request Form to ensure the transfer of IRA funds is carried out without owing taxes.


You can roll over directly from a 401K or any other qualified retirement account. Rolling over your funds will keep you from any taxes.

Cash Contribution

You can also fund your new gold IRA with cash. The self-directed custodian will accept a wire or a check. Whether you will incur tax implications will depend on the type of IRA.

What Is the Difference Between a Rollover and a Transfer?

You can either roll over or transfer funds when funding a precious metals IRA. We wanted to go into further detail to help you understand the two options so you can choose wisely. No matter which you prefer, you will need a self-directed IRA to get started. You can easily convert this type of IRA to a gold IRA.


Transfers travel directly from custodian to custodian with no tax implications. Depending on your needs, you can speak with your self-directed IRA custodian to conduct a partial or full transfer.

One of the advantages of transfers is that there are no limits in a single year. You can transfer as many times as you like.


Rollovers are carried out when you transfer between two different retirement accounts, such as a 401K to a gold IRA. A rollover can be a direct transfer, meaning it is sent from custodian to custodian. Penalty free 401k rollovers to gold are quite common.

It can also be indirect, meaning it was sent from the custodian to the account holder. If the funds are sent to the account holder, the IRS requires them to be transferred within 60 days. You can only have one 60-day rollover per year.

Why Do You Have to Roll Over an IRA?

Now that you know about rolling over and transfers, you may wonder why you would have to roll over an IRA. Traditional IRAs can invest in gold, but most custodians do not offer precious metals. These custodians generally only offer paper assets and managed funds.

If you want to invest in precious metals and your current custodian does not handle them, you will need to roll over your account to an IRA custodian who does. Self-directed IRA custodians can help you purchase IRS-approved metals for your gold IRA.

Purchasing Precious Metals

It is important to note that the IRS will not allow you to hold any golds or bullion you already own. There are only certain types of precious metals allowed. There are rules in place that determine what you can invest in for your gold IRA.

Working with a wealth management firm will ensure you have full guidance through the process of investing in precious metals. Knowing about the IRS rules and what qualifies is essential.

What Are the IRS Rules for Investing in a Precious Metals IRA?

In a gold IRA or silver IRA, you can hold gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Remember that you can open a platinum IRA with a federally insured credit union. The IRS does have some rules for ira investing in physical gold, including the following:

We have made it easy for you to implement the above information. The following are some of the most popular IRS-approved coins for a precious metals IRA:

What Are the Fees for Precious Metals IRAs?

Wealth management firms are going to charge fees for their precious metals services. The fees can vary greatly. Generally, you are going to pay a one-time fee to open your account, an annual maintenance fee, and an annual storage fee.

How Do Precious Metals IRA Fees Differ From Regular IRAs?

Most people are shocked to learn their precious metals IRA will cost more in fees than their regular IRA. Regular IRA fees are much lower because some of the largest IRA custodians make money from all the investment products they sell to customers.

Self-directed custodians do not make any money from the precious metals you purchase. To stay in business, they must charge a fee for their services. Custodians must provide secure storage options for their customers, which come at a price that must be passed on to their customers.

Do You Pay the Fees Out-Of-Pocket or Out of the IRA?

If you have a gold IRA, you will be charged fees for its management and precious metal storage. The fees you pay are tax deductible, allowing you to save on your tax bill.

You have a couple of options for paying fees, whether you are rolling over or transferring. You can choose to pay your fees out of the assets in your gold IRA, or you can elect to pay them out-of-pocket by sending in the payment by check or money order.

Do You Have to Invest All Funds At Once for Physical Precious Metals?

When you get up your IRAs, you can transfer or rollover funds. You are not required to transfer all funds. You can do a portion of your funds for IRA metals and conduct as many transfers as you like throughout the year. Remember that you can only do one 60-day rollover annually for your retirement savings.

How Do You Store Your Precious Metals?

Many people new to investing in precious metals think they can invest in their precious metals IRA and take possession of the gold they purchase. Unfortunately, the IRS does not allow investors to take possession of physical precious metals.

Depositories are third-party storage facilities that offer secure storage for precious metals. These facilities are insured 100% against theft, damage, loss, and other forms of liability.

Each depository takes great strides to offer enhanced security. For instance, the Delaware Depository Service Company uses 24-hour monitoring, vibration motion detection, automatic relocking, timed locks, and sound detectors. These IRA custodians want to be sure your gold or precious metals are protected at all times.

When you put your Chinese Panda Coins, Canadian Maple Leaf Coins, gold coins, or platinum coins in a third-party depository, you want to rest assured they will be safe. These protections keep your precious metals secure.

Should You Choose Commingled or Segregated Storage?

You have a couple of choices when selecting depository storage. Third-party depositories offer both commingled and segregated storage options.


When you select commingled, your precious metals will be stored with all other customers' gold. When you decide to sell or take out an in-kind distribution, you will be given “like” coins and not the same ones you put into storage.


Your precious metals are held separately from other customers' gold in segregated storage. Your precious metals are marked with your name and IRA account number. When you decide to sell, you will receive the exact same bullion or bars your self-directed IRA custodian put into storage.

Top Depositories in the United States

Third-party depositories are located all across the US. There are many highly respectable precious metals storage facilities for your gold IRA, and the top ones include the following:

When you purchase precious metals for your gold IRA, you will need to select a third-party depository like one of the above. They will offer you secure storage options for your gold bars and other precious metals.

How Do You Liquidate Your Precious Metals?

You can sell the gold, silver, palladium, or platinum bullion in your IRA account at any time and without tax penalties. Unless you have Roth IRAs, you will have to pay your taxes on any cash distributions. Self-directed IRA custodians can help you with liquidation and understanding the tax implications.

FAQ About Self-Directed IRAs

Although we have covered a lot of information on self-directed IRAs and precious metal IRAs, you may have more questions as a new investor. There are many things to consider when investing in precious metals, which is why many people seek help from a custodian.

The following answers some of the top questions about a precious metals IRA:

Many IRAs are eligible for investing in precious metals, including Roth accounts. You will need to transfer funds to your gold IRA to get started. Any contributions to a Roth gold IRA are tax deductible.

When you open a gold IRA, you can invest in an array of precious metal coins and bars. You can invest in gold, silver, platinum IRA, and palladium IRA.

You can invest in gold and other precious metals with a precious metals IRA. You must place your physical gold in a depository for storage until you decide to liquidate.

With a Roth gold IRA, you can purchase gold, silver, and other IRS-approved metals. This precious metals IRA gives you freedom in your investment options.

With a precious metals IRA, you can invest in metals like silver and gold, including silver bars and bullion. After your IRA transfer, you can start investing in your silver IRA immediately.

When you open a precious metals IRA, you will designate a beneficiary. In the event of your death, the IRA will go to your beneficiary. You can name anyone, charities, and churches as your beneficiary.

The IRS allows account holders to change the metal in their accounts. You can transfer, trade, and swap any metals in your account at any time.

Once you purchase metals for your precious metals IRA, they must be stored by a third-party depository. Once your palladium is stored for your palladium IRA, the depository will give you an account to ensure your tax-free metals are accounted for and safe.

The taxes paid on annual contribution limits will depend on the type of IRA. After your IRA setup, you cannot withdraw until after the age of 59 1/2 without paying taxes on the post-tax money. If you withdraw before this age, you will owe a 10% penalty.

If you are unhappy with the depository where your metals are stored, you can move to a new one. If the custodian is not offering the storage options needed, you may need to find a new one.

When it comes to IRA investments, you must pay annual fees. You will likely owe late fees if you get behind on a payment. However, if you miss multiple payments, the custodian may have the right to liquidate part of your metals to cover the fees. Make sure you pay your costs on time to your IRA custodian from your savings and loan association.

Final Thoughts

Your IRA custodian can easily help you if you have an existing IRA. Many investors are ditching their mutual funds for a precious metal IRA. To ensure you understand the process and receive proper guidance, you need a custodian.

The right wealth management firm will help you every step of the way. Investing in gold is one of the easiest ways to diversify your investment portfolio.

We hope this extensive guide has helped educate you on the subject of gold investment. If you are ready to get started, select the right gold IRA company to help you get started.

The Best Gold & Silver Companies of 2024

#1: Best For All Level Investors

American Hartford Gold

5 Star customer service, easy to work with, and a low price guarantee.

#2: Best For $50,000+ Investors


Excellent customer service from precious metals experts.

#3: Best For $25,000+ Investors

Augusta Precious Metals

Earned best overall gold IRA company of 2022 by Investopedia's most transparent.

Birch Gold

High level of customer service and a solid reputation

Noble Gold

High level of customer service and a solid reputation