Self-Directed IRA Gold: What You Need To Know

January 14, 2024

A self-directed IRA gold or gold IRA, in simple terms, allows you to invest in precious metals like gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. Unlike traditional IRAs, most investors choose self-directed gold IRAs because they give them more control over investing their retirement funds. By having a self-directed IRA, you can customize and manage your gold investments at will, giving your retirement portfolio more flexibility and potential for growth.

If you'd like to convert your self-directed IRA to gold with an LLC to protect your precious metals assets from legal claims, you'll need a funded self-directed IRA, a Special Purpose LLC, and an LLC bank account. However, the specific requirements vary from state to state, so we recommend consulting with a legal professional to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Investing in a gold IRA requires a reputable IRA custodian who can assist you with opening an account and transferring your funds to purchase your precious metals. We suggest Augusta Precious Metals for being the best-rated gold IRA company in the U.S.

If you’re starting to save for retirement and want full control of your investments, you may want to consider a self-directed retirement account like a self-directed IRA precious metals account. This post covers what self-directed IRA gold is, the best gold IRA companies in 2023 to open a self-directed gold IRA, the steps to invest in this type of asset, and the advanced strategy of converting your IRA to gold using an LLC.

Whether you're new to self-directed IRAs or are already familiar with how they work, this guide will give you the knowledge and understanding you need to make the best investments in your retirement funds.

What Is Self-Directed IRA Gold?

A self-directed IRA gold account, a.k.a. self-directed gold IRA or simply a gold IRA, is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that allows you to invest in certain precious metals like gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. With a self-directed IRA or gold IRA, you can purchase physical gold coins or bars as investments for your retirement portfolio as long as they’re IRS-approved.

This type of investment also helps you gain more flexibility and control other than holding stocks, bonds, or mutual funds with little or no authority over which assets you prefer to invest in.

What Are Self-Directed IRA Precious Metals?

Self-directed IRA precious metals refer to valuable metals generally used as a store of value or for industrial purposes. Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium are the most common precious metals you can invest in.

Unlike U.S. dollars or other common fiat currencies, they have intrinsic value since they have a limited supply and can't be printed at will. So if you're looking for an alternative asset to protect your money from inflation, you can invest in precious metals like gold or silver in a self-directed precious metals IRA since these metals tend to hold their value or increase it over time.

Let’s look at what your investment options are.

Gold Bullion

You can invest in gold in different forms of gold bullion, like coins and gold bars.

Self-Directed IRA Gold: What You Need To Know About Investing In Gold For Retirement

Gold Coins

Gold coins are pieces of gold often minted with iconic designs that carry historical value. They are typically minted by government or private mints such as The US Mint or The Royal Canadian Mint.

Some of the most popular gold coins you can invest in are:

  • American Gold Eagle Coins
  • Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins
  • Australian Gold Kangaroo Coins

Best For:

Gold coins may be more appealing to you if you're interested in their historical value, not just the value of the gold they contain. They're also easily tradable, making it easier for you to sell them when needed.

Gold bars

Gold bars are uniform rectangular bars made of pure gold. They're usually produced by reputable refiners, where they often have a “hallmark” or a stamp indicating their purity, weight, and the refinery's name. The most common sizes of gold bars are 1oz, 10oz, 400oz, 100g, and 1 kg.

Some of the popular gold bars you can purchase include:

  • PAMP Suisse Gold Bars
  • Valcambi Gold Bars
  • Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bars

Best For:

Investing in gold bars is worth it if you're buying a significant amount of gold for the long term since they have lower premiums (the amount charged by the dealer) than gold coins.

However, you must keep in mind that your gold purchases should be at least 99.5% pure or have a minimum fineness of 0.995 to be allowed in your gold IRA.

Silver Bullion

Silver is another popular and more common precious metal many invest in for retirement. It also comes in the form of coins and bars.

Self-Directed IRA Gold: What You Need To Know About Investing In Gold For Retirement

Silver Coins

Like gold coins, silver coins often have additional collectible value for their historic designs. Each coin’s features depend on the issuing mint, series, and country where it's minted.

Many investors who are interested in world currencies are more likely to invest in silver coins, and if you're one of them, you can check these coins below:

  • American Silver Eagle Coins
  • Silver Britannia Coins
  • Austrian Silver Philharmonic Coins

Best For:

Silver coins are known to have a lower price than gold, so if you have a smaller budget, you can purchase smaller quantities of silver coins for your portfolio.

Silver Bars

Like gold bars, silver bars are also rectangular and made of pure silver. Depending on your budget or retirement goals, you can choose from various sizes, like 1oz, 5oz, 10oz, to 100 oz. But some mints also make less standard sizes like ½oz, 2oz, 50oz, and 1000oz.

Some of the popular silver bars include:

  • Royal Canadian Mint Silver Bars
  • Johnson Matthey Silver Bars
  • Sunshine Mint Silver Bars

Take note that investing in larger bars is usually cheaper than investing in an equivalent mass of silver in smaller bars. For instance, it might cost you more if you purchase ten 1oz silver bars than one 10oz silver bar. This is because each 1oz silver bar must be sealed in tamper-proof plastic packaging, making it more expensive for refineries to produce.

However, you should note that 10oz silver bars are more difficult to sell in case of emergencies, so larger bars are only recommended for long-term investments. So if you want some flexibility, we suggest buying silver bars with a mix of smaller ones so you can have assets to hold for the short and long term.

Best For

Silver bars are an attractive option if you’re looking to purchase a large quantity of silver at a lower cost than gold. You can also earn more profit when there’s a bull market since the price of silver is more volatile (but you may lose more on a bear market).

Other Precious Metals You May Want To Invest In: Palladium And Platinum

Palladium and platinum are the other precious metals you can invest in in a self-directed gold IRA. Both of these metals are used to make catalytic converters in cars, so when car sales are up, you can gain a significant profit since their prices will tend to follow.

Self-Directed IRA Gold: What You Need To Know About Investing In Gold For Retirement


Like gold and silver bullion, you can purchase palladium and platinum in coins and bars. They also come in various sizes, generally produced in grams or troy-ounce.

You can buy palladium bars in sizes ranging from 1 gram to 1 kilogram, where 1-ounce palladium bars (28.35 grams) are the most popular choice among investors. On the other hand, you can purchase platinum bars ranging from 1 gram to 10oz (or 283.5g) or occasionally 1kg, like platinum bars offered by PAMP Suisse and Credit Suisse.

Although they’re less prevalent than gold and silver, adding these precious metals to your retirement portfolio could still be an excellent tool for diversification.

Best Self-Directed Gold IRA Companies In 2023

There are hundreds of gold IRA companies that you can invest with, but only a few of them are trustworthy and worth your money. We shortlisted the five best Gold IRA companies that offer the best custodial services, investment options, and customer satisfaction in a self-directed IRA. You will find them in the table below.

Best For Unique Features
Augusta Precious MetalsBest for overall gold IRA companyFree shipping & transit insurance on all eligible orders.
Exclusive 1-on-1 web conference with precious metals experts.
It has an Inflation and Retirement Calculator that helps calculate the purchasing power of your money throughout the years.
GoldcoBest for its Buyback Guarantee ProgramOffers a BuyBack Guarantee Program when you want to sell your precious metals at the highest price guaranteed.
Offers a 10% silver bonus and free shipping on deliveries.
It provides an accurate gold price chart with technical indicators to help you trade.
Birch Gold GroupBest for fee transparency
No fees for transfers over $50,000 for the first year.
Offers a cheaper management fee of $100 annually.
You’ll be paying a flat fee of $200 annually for the custodian fee, no matter how large your account is.
Noble Gold InvestmentsBest for a low minimum investment A $2,000 minimum investment to open an account.
Receive a free coin for first-time investors.
Offers Royal Survival Packs filled with well-known precious metals in case of emergency
American BullionBest for free storage and no custodian feesOffers free storage and $0 custodian account fees for the first year (conditions may apply).
Has the option to store your precious metals in a secured depository or at home storage (provided you have an LLC and minimum net worth of $250,000).
Has an annual Scholarship Program for college students offering one scholarship worth $1,000 by writing an essay about tangible assets.

How To Invest In Gold Or Other Precious Metals With A Self-Directed IRA

Investing in alternative assets like physical gold and silver helps protect your retirement savings from the negative effects of inflation or de-dollarization. So if that's one of your concerns, here are the steps to invest in a self-directed IRA gold account to build an extra layer of protection to your savings.

Self-Directed IRA Gold: What You Need To Know About Investing In Gold For Retirement

Step #1 Choose A Self-Directed Gold IRA Custodian

You must be a self-directed IRA custodian to start investing in precious metals. In this case, you must look for a reputable gold IRA company with a solid track record of giving its best performance and customer satisfaction.

As we mentioned in the previous section, the best gold IRA company overall is Augusta Precious Metals for its free shipping and 1-on-1 online conference about precious metals. Alternatively, you can choose Goldco, which offers free secured storage for 3 years.

Step #2 Open A Self-Directed Gold IRA Account

After you have found your preferred gold IRA custodian, you must open a new account by visiting its website. The process is usually straightforward and only requires providing the necessary documentation and personal information to complete the process.

Step #3 Fund Your New Gold IRA

Your custodian will be there to assist you in transferring and funding your gold IRA. Its representative and your former custodian will transfer your funds from your existing IRA, 401(k), or other retirement plan to your new account.

This process is known as an IRA rollover, and it takes at least 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your custodian, before you can purchase any precious metals.

Step #4 Research And Select The Precious Metals Of Your Choice

Like any investment, you must take some time to research which precious metals investment is best for your retirement portfolio.

For example, if you consider yourself a low-risk investor and don't care much if you have smaller gains as long as it's a safer choice, investing in gold might be for you. But if you're a high-risk investor and would love to earn higher gains by taking advantage of its volatility, investing in silver might be more appealing.

Step #5 Purchase Precious Metals

Once you've made up your mind on which precious metals you're going to invest in, you can purchase them from your custodian, as most good custodians also double as precious metal dealers or brokers. Ensure your metals are IRA-eligible so you don't end up paying tax penalties to the IRS.

Take note that it's best to buy the metals from a well-known custodian and avoid doing business through phone calls with sales reps you don’t know. This is to prevent common gold IRA scammers from stealing your personal information and retirement funds.

Step #6 Store Your Investments In An IRS-Approved Depository

After purchasing your precious metals, your custodian will help you transport and store them in an IRS-approved depository like Brink's Security Company. You can sometimes choose between segregated or non-segregated storage options, depending on your custodian and chosen depository.

For example, if you want to pay less on storage fees, you can opt for a non-segregated storage box which can cost around $100 annually. But if you want more security, you can choose a segregated storage unit, which costs at least $150 annually.

How To Convert IRA To Gold With An LLC

If you want total control of your physical precious metal investments, you can choose home storage instead of storing your metal in a depository (as long as your custodian allows it). To do so, you must first start a Limited Liability Company, or LLC.

An LLC gives you direct control over your precious metals and allows you to keep your assets confidential or protect them from any legal claims or debts.

If you're curious about how to create a home-storage gold IRA and convert your existing IRA with an LLC, here are the basic steps to follow:

Step #1 Open And Fund A Self-Directed IRA

Like before, you must start by opening a self-directed IRA from a reputable IRA custodian before you can convert anything with an LLC. Then, you must fund it, as explained before, by a direct rollover. Alternatively, you can fund it through a deposit, as long as you haven’t maxed out your retirement account contribution limits for the tax year.

Step #2 Form A Special Purpose LLC

You can form a Special Purpose LLC with a secretary of state by submitting a document known as a Certificate of Formation or Article of Organization – though its exact name may vary, depending on the state you’re registering in. To ensure that you're complying with your local state laws when forming your LLC, it's best to consult a legal professional experienced in LLC formation.

You can visit the Department of State (or its website) of your state to find out specific requirements.

Step #4 Open An LLC Bank Account

Once you’ve formed your LLC, you must open a bank account for the new company with the financial institution of your choice. This type of account usually requires you to submit documents like your LLC’s Articles of Organization, LLC Minutes, Operation Agreement, and Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, once again, these requirements may vary by state.

Step #5 Transfer Funds From Your Self-Directed IRA To Your LLC

Now that you have an LLC bank account, you can contact your IRA custodian to transfer your retirement funds directly from your IRA to your LLC bank account.

This process gives you “checkbook control,” which means that you won't need the approval of your custodian when you make a transaction or investment from your new account, especially on precious metals.

Step #6 Purchase Gold Through Your LLC

After your retirement funds have been transferred to your bank account, you're ready to start investing in gold or other precious metals. You can use your LLC's checkbook control to purchase from a reputable gold dealer.

For example, you can buy your preferred gold products and pay them directly to your dealer using a wire, check, or debit card. Take note that the income you earn from your precious metals investments must go back to your self-directed IRA, but the purchases made should be in the name of your LLC.

#7 Store Your Physical Gold In Your LLC

Once you've purchased your precious metals, you can store your gold in an IRS-approved depository or a safe deposit box owned and controlled by your LLC. This could include a special storage unit built at your residence if you qualify for a home-storage gold IRA.

In Summary

Self-directed IRA gold, or more commonly gold stored in a self-directed gold IRA lets you invest your retirement funds in alternative assets like precious metals. Gold, silver, palladium, and platinum are the most popular metals you can invest in for your retirement portfolio. Working with a top reputable IRA custodian like Augusta Precious Metals will guide you throughout the whole process of creating a gold IRA to purchase your precious metals.

Having a self-directed IRA may help diversify your portfolio with precious metals. However, it will not fully protect your assets in case of a legal claim or financial debt. If this interests you, you can convert your IRA to gold with an LLC by forming a Special Purpose LLC, opening an LLC bank account, funding it, and using those funds to buy precious metals. This will give you direct control over your precious metal investments while protecting them from uncertain events.

Self-Directed IRA Gold FAQs

Can a self-directed IRA hold gold coins?

Yes, a self-directed IRA can hold gold coins, unlike traditional IRAs. Self-directed IRAs, like gold IRAs, allow you to invest in alternative assets like precious metals for your retirement portfolio, and you can usually buy them either in bars or coins. However, you must purchase IRA-eligible gold coins that meet the purity standards of the IRS, such as American Gold Eagle and Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins.

Can you buy gold and silver with a self-directed IRA?

Yes, you can buy gold and silver with a self-directed IRA by opening a gold or precious metals IRA. Before purchasing any precious metals, you must choose a gold IRA custodian like Augusta Precious Metals or Goldco, which could assist you in opening an account to buy gold and silver bullion.

Is a self-directed IRA a good idea?

A self-directed IRA may or may not be a good idea for you. It all depends on your risk tolerance, investment strategy, and retirement goals. A self-directed IRA can give you greater flexibility and control over your investments than a normal IRA for investing in stocks or bonds. However, a self-directed investment account isn’t for the inexperienced investor since you must actively manage your account and keep track of your assets’ value to avoid losing money or taking advantage of profitable investment opportunities.

How much are the fees for a self-directed gold IRA?

The fees associated with a self-directed gold IRA depend on the custodian and the services you choose. Some of the common fees that you'll generally need to pay are:

  • One-time setup fee – costs between $50 to $200.
  • Annual maintenance fee – some custodians don't charge this fee, like Augusta Precious Metals, while others charge as much as $100.
  • Transaction fees – many custodians charge at least $25 per wire transfer whenever you send or receive money with your bank account.
  • Annual storage fee – costs at least $100 depending on the type of storage you choose (segregated or non-segregated).
  • Delivery fee – depends on the custodian or depository, but you can find custodians that offer free deliveries with a minimum purchase, like Augusta Precious Metals and American Hartford Gold.

What can a self-directed IRA not invest in?

The investments that a self-directed IRA cannot invest in include collectibles (artwork, rugs), life insurance policies, and other precious metals that don't meet the specific requirements of the IRS.

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