Gold bars and coins next to a vault with text "Gold IRA Vs. Physical Gold"

Gold IRA vs. Physical Gold: What’s the Difference?

What You Should Know About Gold IRAs vs. Physical Gold

People often want to compare gold IRAs and physical gold. When weighing your gold ownership options, its important to keep in mind that the former contains the latter. When you open a gold IRA, you use physical gold as an asset in your retirement portfolio. There are, however, differences between keeping your physical gold at home and holding it in an IRA. For example, a custodian is needed for you to open a gold IRA and take advantage of the tax benefits associated with the account.

Can Physical Gold Be Held in an IRA?

Yes, physical gold can be held in an IRA. An individual retirement account (IRA) offers people special tax benefits that maximize savings. An IRA can consist of a variety of assets, including physical gold. When you open a gold IRA, physical gold is typically the primary asset held in the account.

Gold IRA Comparison

A gold IRA allows you to hold physical gold and other precious metals in an individual retirement account rather than keeping those assets in a home safe or safe deposit box.

Gold IRAs are self-directed and can be either Traditional or Roth IRAs. While a custodian helps open and administer this type of account, you are the one who chooses the assets to be included. The assets in self-directed IRAs are another differentiator from other Traditional and Roth IRAs—self-directed IRAs may contain alternative assets (in addition to precious metals) that can’t be kept in other IRAs, such as real estate and precious metals.

Because gold IRAs can also include other IRA-approved precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium, these accounts are also referred to as precious metals IRAs.

What You Should Know About Gold IRAs

When considering a gold IRA vs. physical gold, you may wish to keep some points in mind. This type of IRA must be set up in a specific way to remain within IRS regulations, and it requires more involvement on the part of the account holder (you). However, once you establish your gold IRA, you’ll enjoy unique benefits that can only come with this type of account.

You’ll Need a Gold IRA Custodian

The IRS gold IRA guidelines state that the account must be handled by a custodian, which may lead to certain fees. Any gold held within an IRA cannot be stored at home or in a safe deposit box and must be stored in an IRS-approved depository.

Gold IRAs Offer More Control

Since gold IRAs are self-directed, they are much more hands-on compared to more conventional Traditional and Roth IRAs. While this requires a little more effort on your part, it also gives you more control over your asset mix and thus more control over your financial future.

You May Want to Research Gold Pricing

Part of the appeal of a gold IRA is having more control over the assets in your portfolio. You are responsible for deciding which assets to include and when to purchase them. This means you’ll likely be the one researching gold prices and figuring out how much gold to add to your portfolio at any given time. U.S. Money Reserve employs knowledgeable and courteous Account Executives who can help answer any questions you may have.

You’ll Need a Gold Distributor

While you do not have to source the physical gold yourself to add it to your gold IRA, you will need to find a distributor of precious metals to help your custodian acquire the gold products you select. U.S. Money Reserve is a reputable distributor with more than two decades of experience selling precious metals—a benefit to those wishing to add gold or other precious metals to their IRAs since these products must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Gold IRAs Are Often Part of a Long-Term Financial Strategy

The physical gold inside an IRA is held to distribution timing rules just like the assets found in other Traditional and Roth IRAs. Opening a gold IRA is often part of a long-term financial strategy because of these distribution regulations.

A Gold IRA Allows for Increased Diversification

Gold IRAs offer you a way to use alternative assets to save for retirement—something many other retirement accounts don’t do. These accounts can also hold more than just gold and therefore provide more diversification options for your portfolio.

Gold IRAs Come With Tax Benefits

A gold IRA comes with the same tax benefits and distribution rules as other Traditional and Roth IRAs. When required minimum distributions are taken, the same rules are follows as conventional IRAs.

Precious Metals in a Gold IRA Must Meet IRS Requirements

Only certain types of precious metals can be placed in a gold IRA. Gold IRAs can hold gold, silver, platinum, and/or palladium. But any asset must be IRS-approved and meet minimum fineness requirements.

IRA-Approved Gold Can’t Be Stored at Home or in a Bank

As per the IRS’s IRA guidelines, approved gold and other precious metals can’t be kept at your home or stored in a bank safe deposit box.

To learn more about the requirements and benefits of opening a gold IRA, request our precious metals IRA Kit.

Should I Put Gold in an IRA?

You may wish to consider a gold IRA if you’d like more diversification options that may help mitigate the effects of economic downturns and hedge against market volatility. To take advantage of the hedging benefits, some financial experts recommend that a portfolio be comprised of 10–30% gold and other precious metals.

Types of Physical Gold for IRAs

Physical gold can come in many forms, but not all of them are eligible for inclusion in an IRA. IRA-eligible gold comes in the form of certain gold bullion coins, proof coins, rounds, or gold bars.

Type of physical gold is just one aspect to consider when selecting the precious metals for your IRA. There are other variables and factors you may wish to consider, such as purity, issuing government, or even attributes like design or year of issue.

What You May Wish to Consider Before Buying Physical Gold

Some considerations may apply to owning physical gold whether it’s stored in an IRA or kept personally in a safe or safe deposit box.

Fineness Matters

Gold fineness, or purity, is a factor that affects the market price of a gold product as well as its eligibility for inclusion in an IRA. With only a few exceptions, IRA-eligible gold must be at least 99.5% pure.

Physical Gold Comes From Many Sources

Physical gold is produced by a variety of mints and manufacturers, but not all gold products are created equal in the eyes of the IRS. To be IRA-eligible, a gold product must come from a national government mint or an accredited manufacturer.

Physical Gold May Be Sold at Any Time

Physical gold held outside of an IRA can be sold at any time. It’s a commodity that is sold in nearly every country of the world, which makes the gold market international. Just as with purchasing gold for an IRA, you’re in charge of arranging the sale of your gold.

Gold IRAs Are Secure

When held in an IRA, physical gold benefits from security. The IRS requires precious metals held in an IRA to be stored in an approved depository.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of purchasing physical gold and using it as part of your retirement portfolio protection strategy, Download Your Free Precious Metals IRA Kit today.

How to Purchase Physical Gold or Open a Gold IRA

Purchasing physical gold for an IRA isn’t the same as purchasing physical gold you plan to keep at home or in a safe deposit box, though products for both uses may come from the same distributor.

Once you’ve established your gold IRA with a custodian, you’ll need to fund the account. You can do this by:

  • Transferring funds from another IRA,
  • Using a rollover from another IRA, or
  • Funding the IRA with a cash deposit.

From there you can direct your custodian to purchase IRA-eligible gold from a reputable distributor like U.S. Money Reserve. However, you can’t keep the physical gold in your possession. Once the gold is purchased, your custodian must store it in an IRS-approved depository (which your custodian can help you select).

Through its professional IRA Division, U.S. Money Reserve offers a simplified way to open and select physical gold for a precious metals IRA. If you’re ready to open a gold IRA or would like more information on which gold products may be right for your retirement portfolio, we can provide personal assistance. Call one of our dedicated IRA Account Executives today at 1-888-523-4944.


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