August 10


401k To Gold IRA Rollover Guide

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Unfortunately, more people don't know how to save money for retirement. It's pretty common to assume that you'll be okay as long as you stash a bit of cash away every once in a while. Others are under the impression that the stock market is the key to building retirement wealth. In fact, the true story is much more complex than that.

Our research led us to write a guidebook (the one you're reading right now) that highlights another kind of investment. Instead of bonds and corporate stocks, we're examining gold IRAs, individual accounts that allow you to hold physical bullion. Plus, gold IRAs serve two purposes simultaneously, namely of helping you accumulate wealth and secure it from the ups and downs of the global economic environment.

What is a "rollover"? It's a term used by financial experts to describe the act of switching funds out of a traditional IRA and depositing them into a precious metals (or "gold") IRA. Actually, the entire process of doing a rollover includes several things, like the movement of the money, the opening of a new account, and the funding of the new account.

We wrote this guide so you could more easily and efficiently perform a rollover without the usual hassles and stressed-out feelings people often get when they do any account switching.

Note that our guide is only about rollovers, not the more simple act of putting cash into a brand-new retirement account. For millions of long-term investors, a rollover is an intelligent way to leverage various tax benefits.

It's also helpful to remember that our guide is not about "transfers," which are a different kind of account maneuver. We're looking only at rolling over a 401k into a precious metals ("gold") IRA.

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Why is Gold Important?

For more than 2,000 years, human beings have been using gold as money, jewelry, architectural ornamentation, and even in religious ceremonies. Not long ago, many countries minted gold coins and put the coins directly into circulation via the banking system.

Several centuries ago, when people realized that it was impractical to use gold for every transaction, especially very large ones, nations came up with the idea of paper money as a kind of stand-in for gold. The notes were easy to create on a printing press and are much easier to carry around than heavy gold coins and bars.

Nowadays, you can't turn in your paper notes for gold bullion, but gold still holds value. In fact, it's pretty easy to exchange gold for paper money. Plus, when the economy goes sour, and the stock market is failing, people look to gold as a way to protect their wealth. That's just one reason that so many investors keep at least some gold in their portfolios.

Unlike paper money, stocks, commodities, and other things that people invest in, gold tends to hold its value from year to year because the supply doesn't change that much. Because it's hard to get out of the earth, producers (mining companies) can't just decide to ramp up production whenever they wish.

Indeed, the worldwide gold supply is a known quantity. That means mining companies and investors can't dump a massive supply onto the global market to dampen prices.

But, it's not all about perceived value because gold has practical uses too. For instance, it's used regularly in the manufacturing sector as well as in the electronics industry. Notably, gold is an excellent conductor of electricity, and that's why it is often used to make wires and specialized processing equipment.

Human beings have always needed gold. In modern times, there's a good chance that the value of gold could rise as a direct result of industrial demand and the metal's value to various other economic forms of activity.

And, in the event of a significant economic breakdown, war, or social upheaval, people who own physical gold could survive by using it to acquire essential goods and services. For those reasons and many more, everyone should hold at least a small amount of gold, ideally a sizeable amount.

Rollovers and Transfers: How Are They Different?

What's the difference between an IRA rollover and a transfer? They sound similar, but the terms have very different meanings. When funds are rolled over, they are taken out of the original IRA, in cash, and then placed into a fresh retirement account.

When you transfer IRA funds from one IRA to another, there's not "cashing out" of the money, but just a direct movement of funds from the original IRA into the new one and the custodian does it.

Many people only keep a small percentage of their retirement money in precious metals. Still, when you rollover 401k to gold IRA you'll have the option to do this because traditional IRAs can't hold physical gold or any other precious metal.

Rules for Rollovers

Rule one of rollovers is that you only have 60 days from when the money is cashed out to you before you must put it back into another retirement fund via a new custodian.

If you fail to do the whole process within the 60 days, the IRS assumes you made a cash withdrawal and will be happy to assess penalties if you're not yet 59 years old. The point is to be quick about making the rollover.

Another rule is that you can only do one rollover per year, no matter what kind of IRA you are moving funds from or to.

Rules for Transfers

Transfers are not as risky as rollovers, at least in one way. Namely, there's no danger of missing the 60-day deadline when you do a transfer because the funds move directly via a cashier's check or wire transfer.

For many investors, a transfer is the safest and quickest way to get a gold IRA started.

How To Do a 401k To Gold Rollover

It's common for 401k plans to be subject to all sorts of rules. For example, 401k's that are old can usually be transferred with no worries at all. However, if your 401k is not old but relatively new, and you want to do a rollover into a gold IRA, you might have to ask your employer if the transfer is allowed.

In truth, if you want to move money out of a new 401k, there are usually legal methods for doing so, but it's crucial to find out what your employer's rules are about the process before you begin. That's because gold IRAs are comparatively new kinds of accounts, having been written into law as part of the TRA (tax-payer relief act) in 1997.

Step one is speaking with your employer. Find out whether the 401k you have can be rolled over. Some cannot be. If yours is one that can be rolled, find out about the tax consequences and make sure that you know how to move the funds from the 401k to the gold IRA. It helps to get some expert advice in this area.

For example, any physical gold you keep in a gold IRA must meet specific purity standards. It must be at least 99.5 percent pure and be maintained in an IRS-approved storage vault. Plus, you can usually only add $6,000 or $7,000 per year to the gold IRA. Finally, you can never put gold you already own into an IRA.

What's Your Best Strategy?

You must decide how much of your 401k money will move over to the gold IRA account when it comes to strategy. There are lots of conflicting opinions about the percentage to move, even among experts in the field.

Estimates range from a conservative five percent up to 50 percent. What's right for you? Think about your allocation plans by considering what the state of the economy is like, what the future might hold, what your goals are, how well your 401k is doing, why you want to own gold in the first place, and how many years there are between now and the day you will be retiring.

Our guide does not offer that kind of advice. We simply want to urge you to ask yourself the hard questions and talk them over with any financial advisors you have. However, there are a few approaches that investors seem to prefer overall. Some might serve as a way to help you decide how to allocate your own retirement money.

Safeguarding Your Assets By Diversifying

When your current 401k is composed of traditional assets like mutual funds, corporate bonds, and stocks, there's no real diversification strategy in place. Changing the allocation to include between 5-10 percent in gold can help you gain that essential diversification element.

Then there's the factor of risk tolerance. Everyone is different in this regard. For instance, if you think the global economy is on its way down, the chances are that you want to go above the 10 percent mark for gold allocation. Also, if you are older and very close to retirement age, you might wish to rise above the 10 percent level to gain the protection and security of gold and other precious metals.

Most Investors No Longer Trust The Dollar

As for the U.S. dollar and many other major world currencies, many investors have a very low level of trust in them. For that reason alone, some people choose to place as much as 20 or 30 percent of their assets into a gold IRA.

One of the unique characteristics of gold is that it's been around for a very long time, many centuries. When the national and world economy begins to look shaky, or when inflation starts to run amok, gold can be an intelligent safe-haven investment that can hold its inherent worth and monetary value.

Lack of Confidence in the Global Financial System

What if you are one of the many people who feel that the whole world's economic structure is ready to collapse any day? These are the folks who often place as much as 30 percent of their retirement assets into gold IRAs. However, some people wonder about the fact that the daily value of precious metals changes quite a bit, just as other assets rise and fall in price.

So, if you have 30 percent of your retirement portfolio in gold, for example, and the price of the yellow metal takes a dip, your IRA will also decrease in total value. This is the specific reason why so many financial advisors say that it's best to stay below that decisive 30-percent mark when allocating gold to your IRA.

Consider speaking with a trusted financial advisor to decide on your own strategy. Remember that any gold you put into an IRA must be of the right purity and form, and it must be IRS-approved. Otherwise, the account could be declared something other than an IRA, and you could lose all those great tax benefits.

Likewise, avoid assuming that gold-mining stocks and gold-based ETFs are as beneficial as physical gold. The section below discusses this topic in more detail.

How ETF's Differ From Physical Gold

So-called "paper gold," like ETFs and gold-mining stocks, is not the same as gold bullion and coins, which are classified as "physical gold." Paper gold can't deliver the same benefits of real, physical gold, namely being able to move them around, to know that you have possession of them and that no company is responsible for "owing" you gold.

When the metal is in your hand (or in your vault), it's yours to do with as you please. ETFs can be very risky and are much more akin to shares of stock than physical gold, even if your ETF shares are based on the price of gold.

What should you do if you can't decide between real gold and assets like gold-mining stock and gold-backed ETFs? Sit down with a financial expert and discuss the issue, so you're clear on the critical differences between these two very different kinds of investments.

What Are The Current Legal Restrictions on Bars and Coins?

Whatever gold coins and gold bars you choose to put into your IRA must be 99.9 percent pure Fortunately, U.S. silver and gold buffalos, Canadian maple leafs, and many other well-known coins meet this standard.

Do your own research before taking the final step of moving from a 401k to a gold IRA, which is also called a self-directed IRA. Of course, as mentioned elsewhere in this guide, there are numerous benefits of opening a gold IRA, but you need to educate yourself about all the details before making the switch from a 401k.

Finally, your custodian must meet IRS standards just as all the physical silver and gold in your new precious metals IRA must also meet the IRS criteria for purity. The specificity of a gold IRA account comes with many legal rules and regulations.

That's why it's imperative to speak with an advisor as you move through the process and remain in touch with the new account custodian. If you do all that, then you'll be in an excellent position to enjoy a secure and stable retirement.

How To Select A Gold Company To Assist You?

Investors who want to roll their current IRAs or 401k's into a precious metals IRA (also called a "gold IRA" even though you can put any precious metal into it) need to find a company that offers the service. There's really only one method for accomplishing this task: spending several hours doing research.

It's important to study the various companies in the niche, even the leading ones, to find out how consumers rate them and what other industry members have to say about their professionalism and experience.

While no single gold IRA company is the perfect match for every investor, it pays to be diligent in your search and thorough in your background study of the industry leaders.

The bottom line is that you're essentially shopping for a company that is both trustworthy and competent. Trust is paramount because the financial security of your retirement years is at stake.

And, competence is also a core component of the checklist because you need an organization that can help you grow your total wealth and that has experience assisting others to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, as in every other industry, there are a few unscrupulous players who would prefer to make a quick profit by selling your "numismatic" coins and other collectibles that do absolutely nothing for your retirement account.

The goal is to acquire assets for your IRA that can deliver the tax breaks you want and need for long-term wealth accumulation.

Another essential point to keep at top of mind is that the law is set up so that you can only do an IRA rollover once annually. If you exceed that number, the tax consequences can be highly damaging. Plus, once you take funds from a current IRA or 401k, you have just two months to park them into another IRA.

If you wait too long to reinvest the money into another retirement account, the IRS will be happy to hit you with steep penalties and hefty fees. The point of it all is that you need to do your homework and research before making the switch so that you don't run into timing problems.

Step one is to work with an official "custodian" (like a precious metals company) that can provide you with all the pertinent facts about account setup and doing the rollover from your current account into a new gold IRA. That's crucial because you want to get all the paperwork done before the 60-day limit runs out.

Thus, there's plenty of logic in doing as many of the relevant tasks ahead of time, so you will not be rushing at the last minute to get things done.

Investors are entirely justified in looking forward to investing in precious metals like silver and gold, but there's still a need for doing research and being careful with each step of the process.

Fortunately, dozens, if not hundreds, of U.S.-based precious metals dealers are authorized to do IRA rollovers for investors. Our research team has done an in-depth study to identify the top three in the niche and provide all the necessary details to you in outline form below.

Best of the Best

Goldco has an unblemished reputation in the industry. They're known far and wide for fantastic customer service and doing whatever it takes to assist new customers in identifying the particular metals they want for their accounts.

For over a decade, Goldco has been the industry's leading brokerage company so that new and established customers can maximize the security and profitability of gold IRAs. While there is no on-site storage facility, Goldco is glad to recommend top-rated vaults to its clients.

Additionally, the entire Goldco customer-service team specializes in IRA rollovers for investors who want to transfer some or all the funds in a traditional IRA or 410k into a gold IRA. 


  • Goldco has more than ten years of experience in the Gold IRA industry, which is longer than most competitors.
  • The company has earned in excess of one thousand verified reviews at credible sites.
  • In 2015, 2016, and 2017, Goldco was listed on the prestigious "INC. 5000" roster.
  • The company's BBB (Better Business Bureau) grade is "A," the highest possible ranking.
  • New customers can get up to $10,000 in free silver


  • Goldco does not maintain any storage vaults of its own.
  • If you want to open a new account, the minimum is $25,000, which is high compared to competitors.

An industry leader in assisting their clients with investing in gold and silver, and other precious metals (PMs), Birch Gold Group has two decades of experience in the retirement/IRA niche.

Known industry-wide for its helpful and knowledgeable group of customer-service professionals, the company is ideally suited to work with those new to the retirement investing market.

Not only does the staff go the extra mile to assist with traditional IRA to precious metal IRA rollovers, but they also do all the paperwork and other chores so that new customers can start quickly and easily.

A key benefit in the eyes of many is that the Birch Gold Group charges no fees on new account balances that are less than $50,000, which is something almost unique among gold companies in this space.


  • Numerous professional organizations rate Birch as one of the best companies of its kind.
  • Even if you invest less than $50,000, you will not have to pay any fees for transfer services.
  • BGG has built a reputation based primarily on its excellent customer service.


  • There is no listing of the company's various fees on its main website.
  • The fees can be pretty high for clients who do not purchase gold bullion, aka "physical gold."

Unique in the fact that they possess more than a half-century in the precious metals industry, APM is known to investors and industry leaders alike. Their strong points, among many, include employees who are both professional and customer-service oriented, which means they're able to assist new and experienced investors equally well.

With professionalism and security at the forefront of their work, Augusta Precious Metals is perfectly positioned to assist investors who wish to do rollovers from traditional IRAs and 401k's to precious metals IRAs. For brand-new investors, the Augusta team pays particular attention to ensure every detail goes smoothly and accurately.

Not only do they take care of routine paperwork, but the APM experts get new accounts open fast, help investors purchase metals, and complete the entire asset/account transfer process with ease. Another APM special offering is their price guarantee that lasts for seven full days on every new customer purchase.

That way, if precious metals prices change drastically in the interim (during the seven days from account setup), there's no adverse impact on the customer's pricing before the metal is shipped to the storage location.


  • Your investments are held in the highest grade of storage, namely Class 3 vaults.
  • All customers get a 7-day window when buying to help them avoid significant price changes in the market.
  • New customers can choose to receive $2,000 in free silver as a welcome gift.


  • You can't find out what storage fees are until you select a facility.
  • The opening minimum balance of $50,000 is higher than most of the company's competitors.

Concluding Comments

Anyone interested in putting at least some of their money into precious metals is wise to use gold IRAs to secure their retirement years. The outmoded 401k system is not nearly as safe or profitable in the majority of scenarios.

In fact, a precious metals IRA is an excellent strategy for maximizing the return on your investment and adding the exact amount of diversification that suits your particular risk tolerance.

Perhaps the primary benefit of a gold IRA, aka "a self-directed IRA," is that investors can leverage the earning power of alternative forms of investing, precious metals being the best example.

It's essential, however, to remember that just as with all forms of retirement accounts, there are specific rules you have to follow. Investors who don't abide by those legal regulations can end up facing severe tax burdens and consequences.

While retirement planning can seem like a major chore at first glance, the good news is that investors don't have to do everything themselves. The wisest first step is to sit down with your financial professional and decide the best strategy for your situation.

Learn how to legally, safely, and quickly transfer funds from a traditional 401k to a gold IRA. Once you have all the necessary information and the help of a trained advisor, the entire process is quite simple, streamlined, and hassle-free.

We wish that this short guidebook to using a gold IRA to maximize your retirement wealth has been of some help. If you can use the information in our guide to begin the process of rolling over your 401k funds into a gold IRA, then we'll feel as if we've done our job.

The #1 Recommendation

If you work with company to help rollover your 401k to a gold ira, there is no better company suited than Goldco. 

Not only do they have over 1,200 five star ratings from customers, but many of those ratings have come within the last couple years. Additionally, they have very little complaints and are prominent on most major review sites.

You can request a free gold ira guide by visiting their site here or directly below. Best of luck!

  • Over 1,200 five star reviews
  • A+ Rating by BBB
  • Precious Metals Specialists