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Personal Finance

Gold IRA Fees: How to Calculate the Costs

Updated Dec 05, 2023   |   12-min read

Many people use gold IRAs as a hedge against inflation and as a strategy to diversify their investments. These accounts allow you to take advantage of valuable tax benefits, but they need to be set up and maintained according to IRS regulations.

Only a self-directed IRA can hold physical gold, and that gold must be stored at an approved depository. Both requirements result in fees beyond what you’d pay for a typical traditional or Roth IRA.

These fees shouldn’t deter you from opening a gold IRA, but it’s smart to take the time to understand what costs are involved and how to minimize them. In the guide below, we will unravel the details of gold IRA fees you might encounter.

In this guide:

Types of gold IRA fees

The fees for gold IRAs fall into four main categories. These cover the costs associated with creating and maintaining an IRA, storing gold, and withdrawals.

FeeWhat it coversCost rangeOne-time or recurring?
Setup feeCreating self-directed IRA$50 – $100+One-time
Administrative feeMiscellaneous tasks company incurs (e.g., IRS records)$275 – $2,250
(can be flat or a percentage of account value)
Gold IRA storage feeIRS-approved gold depository (to take advantage of tax benefits)$125+
(can vary depending on whether you want your gold segregated or stored with other investors’ metals and the value of your gold)
Recurring (often annual)
Transaction feesBuying, selling, or exchanging precious metals$10 – $95+
(often per asset or per transaction)
Per request

Setup fees

Sometimes called an application fee, the one-time setup fee is the cost to create a self-directed IRA. These accounts have the same tax benefits as other IRAs, but they are allowed to hold alternative investments, such as precious metals, cryptocurrency, and real estate.

Setup fees can be as low as $50 at many IRA custodians, such as Madison Trust Company, Vantage, and Equity Trust. Other companies may charge $100 or more to set up an account.

Administrative fees

Once you set up your self-directed IRA, the account custodian will charge an annual maintenance fee to cover the cost of administrative tasks. Your fee pays for the company to maintain records as the IRS requires.

Some companies will charge a flat annual administrative fee, while others use a sliding scale or charge a percentage of your account value. For instance, Vantage charges its customers $275 per year for record-keeping. Meanwhile, annual fees at Equity Trust start at $225 for accounts valued at less than $15,000 and run to $2,250 for those worth more than $2 million.

Gold IRA storage fees

The IRS won’t allow you to store your gold at home, so you’ll need to keep your precious metals in an approved depository if you want to take advantage of an IRA’s tax benefits. IRA custodians collect storage fees, and each has its own fee schedule.

The amount you pay for gold storage can depend on the following factors:

  • IRA custodian (financial institution or company that provides secure storage and management services for physical gold and other precious metals)
  • Depository
  • Value of account
  • Whether gold is segregated

You can choose to have your gold commingled with that of other investors, and this is the cheapest way to store gold. If you want to keep your gold separate—known as segregated—you’ll pay a little more.


IRA custodians may charge different fees even when using the same depository. For instance, storing gold at Delaware Depository will cost Kingdom Trust customers $125 for nonsegregated storage and $290 for segregated storage. However, at Madison Trust Company, you’ll pay $100 for up to $100,000 worth of gold stored at Delaware Depository plus $1 for every $1,000 of asset value beyond that.

Transaction fees

Some companies, such as the GoldStar Trust Company, don’t charge any fees to buy, sell, or exchange precious metals, but it’s more common to pay for these services.

At New Direction Trust Company, for example, you’ll pay $95 for the purchase, sale, or exchange of precious metals. Kingdom Trust charges $40 per request.

Plus, you might pay additional transaction fees, such as these examples from Equity Trust:

  • $10 per asset for liquidation ($30 max)
  • Cost plus $10 for coin shipping and handling ($50 minimum)
  • $50 per transaction for an in-kind distribution or transfer out

Other custodians may have different sales charges or special handling fees.

How fees vary by provider

As you can see above, gold IRA fees aren’t uniform, and each custodian maintains its own fee schedule. The amounts will vary, but you should expect to pay the following regardless of the company you use:

  • Application or setup fee
  • Annual maintenance fee
  • Gold storage fees
  • Transaction fees for the purchase, sale, or exchange of gold
  • Withdrawal fee to liquidate gold
  • Termination fee if you cancel your account

Other one-time fees may include charges for distributions via check, late payments, and partial distributions.

Understand the fee schedule

Before you sign up for a gold IRA, be sure to review the fee schedules for several custodians to compare costs. Most companies post a schedule online, and you can find it by searching for the terms “fee disclosure,” “fee schedule,” or “account fees.” If you can’t find it on the company website, contact the firm to request a copy.

Often, the fee schedule is broken down in sections for different types of fees, such as the following:

  • Account fees: These include setup and maintenance fees, which everyone pays.
  • Service or transaction fees: Pay these fees only for specific actions, such as requesting a wire transfer or paper statements.
  • Precious metals account fees: These costs include gold storage, shipping, and liquidation.

Service fees and setup fees are often flat fees, meaning everyone pays the same amount. You might pay annual account maintenance fees and precious metals storage fees as flat or scaled fees. 

The company might assess scaled fees in one of two ways:

  1. A flat rate that increases according to a schedule as the value of your account increases.
  2. A percentage of the value of your account, such as 0.1% or 0.15%. [You may also see the term “basis point,” e.g., 0.1% = 1 basis point (bps).]

Some gold IRA companies may use a combination of flat and scaled fees. For instance, you may pay a flat fee for balances up to a certain amount plus a scaled fee on any amount exceeding that.

As you review maintenance fees, check how they’re assessed. Some companies will charge you annually; others will bill you quarterly.

Long-term vs. short-term costs

As you set up your gold IRA, you will have immediate, short-term costs that include expenses related to the account and the gold:

  • Setup fee for a self-directed IRA
  • First year of annual account maintenance
  • Cost of gold investment
  • Shipping and handling to send gold to a depository
  • First year of gold storage fee

Since these costs are obvious, you may be tempted to select a gold IRA company based on them. However, the long-term fees associated with one of these retirement accounts are just as important. These include:

  • Ongoing account maintenance fees
  • Ongoing gold storage fees
  • Cost to buy, sell, or exchange gold

Over time, high fees can erode the value of your investment, so pay careful attention to how the company assesses these costs. Scaled fees, in particular, can take a significant amount of your retirement savings. What seems like a reasonable fee now could be exorbitant as you accumulate more gold.

Expert advice

Erin Kinkade


Assess the fees applied to a gold IRA to ensure the pros outweigh the cons. If the fees begin to deplete the rate of return or result in the gold IRA growing at a rate lower than the inflation rate, it could be best to look for a different investment strategy. If the purpose of your gold IRA is truly to diversify during market fluctuations, and it’s a small portion of your overall investments and retirement savings, the former may not be as important or impactful to you. It depends on an individual’s goals, the amount of investable assets and savings, and their retirement time horizon (when retirement begins, their life expectancy, and withdrawal needs).

Tips to minimize fees

You can’t avoid all fees, but follow these tips to ensure you get the best deal on a gold IRA.

  1. Compare multiple companies: Many people set up their gold IRA through a company that connects them to a custodian and depository. Talk to several companies, and find out which firms they recommend. Then ask to see the fee schedule for each one.
  2. Look beyond the headlines: Some companies may announce they don’t charge certain fees. But are they compensating for that by charging higher fees elsewhere? A thorough review of the fee schedule will help you decipher the true costs.
  3. Ask about different depositories: Some IRA custodians work with multiple depositories, each with its own fee structure. Rather than signing up for the first gold storage option the company presents, ask whether other depositories are available so you can compare.
  4. Do the math: Using a company that has scaled fees may be less expensive if you have a small balance, but a flat fee often saves money over time. What’s more, it is predictable. Run the numbers, or have your accountant do it for you to see which is the better deal.
  5. Consider your investment style: Are you the type of investor who buys an asset and keeps it for decades? Or do you think you might be buying, selling, and exchanging gold often over time? In that case, going with the account that has low transaction fees might save you the most money over time, even if it has higher setup fees upfront.

Calculate the costs

Let’s consider how much you might pay using real-world numbers and assuming you’re investing $100,000.

Cost categoryScenario AScenario BScenario C
Account setup$50 (online application)$50 (online application)$50 (online application)
Annual fee$500 (scaled fee)$90 (flat fee)$125 (flat fee)
Storage fee$100 (commingled storage)$100 (commingled storage)$175 (segregated storage)

As you can see in the examples above, Scenario A is much more expensive due to its scaled annual fee. 

Scenario B is the least expensive but offers the same type of storage as Scenario A. 

Scenario C features a segregated storage option, which might be worth the extra cost depending on your needs.


These examples exclude any shipping, handling, and processing costs involved in sending your gold to a depository.

Compare gold IRA providers

The process of selecting a gold IRA provider means selecting multiple companies. You’ll need the following:

  • Gold company to purchase precious metals from
  • Custodian to open and manage your self-directed IRA
  • Depository to store your gold

However, if you find a reputable gold company, the second two choices are easy. Many gold IRA companies work closely with custodians and depositories for a seamless experience.

To get you started, here are three popular gold IRA companies worth considering:

American Hartford Gold

  • Best overall
  • Editorial rating: 4.9 out of 5

As one of the overall best gold IRA companies in our opinion, American Hartford Gold rates highly by consumers and the Better Business Bureau. The company has a simple online form you can fill out to begin the process of opening a gold IRA, and it makes rolling over your current IRA to a gold IRA easy.

American Hartford Gold uses Equity Trust Company as the IRA custodian for its customers’ accounts, and you can store the gold with Brinks, Delaware Depository, or the International Depository Services Group.


  • Wide selection of gold products

  • Simple online intake form

  • Buyback commitment streamlines liquidation process

  • Offers segregated and nonsegregated storage


  • Minimum $10,000 order

  • Pricing for individual gold products is not online

Lear Capital

  • Best risk-free guarantee
  • Editorial rating: 4.7 out of 5

Lear Capital is another top choice for a gold IRA. It’s been in business since 1997 and offers customers a wealth of investor information on its website. When you open a Lear Advantage IRA and fund it with an eligible purchase, the company will reimburse your first-year fees.

Gold is stored with Delaware Depository, and Lear Capital uses Self Directed IRA Services Inc. as the custodian for its customers’ IRAs.


  • Price of many gold products clearly stated online

  • 24-hour risk-free purchase guarantee

  • Free IRA storage and setup for qualifying customers

  • Offers a price-match guarantee


  • IRA-eligible gold products aren’t clearly designated online

  • No choice in depository or custodian

Oxford Gold Group

  • Best for platinum and palladium
  • Editorial rating: 4.6 out of 5

Operating since 2017, Oxford Gold Group provides personalized assistance from a representative who will walk you through the process of setting up an IRA and rolling over a balance. The company’s website is easy to navigate and includes resources such as a gold price chart and historical data.

Oxford Gold Group works with Brinks and Delaware Depository for gold storage but does not reveal online which custodian it recommends.


  • Comprehensive online learning center and investor resources

  • Complete account setup within 24 hours of finishing application process

  • Highly rated customer support

  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau


  • Must call for gold pricing or to set up an account

  • Custodian information not disclosed online

How to choose a gold IRA company

Do your research

Erin Kinkade


Be sure you understand the fees and their impact on your investment. Select a reputable custodian or provider, and, depending on your investable assets or available savings, invest a small amount at first to familiarize yourself with this type of investing.


Are gold IRAs tax-advantageous?

Yes, just like regular IRAs, gold IRAs come with tax advantages.

You can select to open a traditional gold IRA and receive a tax deduction for your contributions. Then, your withdrawals in retirement will be subject to regular income tax.

Or you can choose a Roth gold IRA, which is funded with after-tax dollars. You won’t get an immediate deduction, but your investment will grow tax-free, and you can withdraw tax-free in retirement.

Talk to a financial professional to learn more details about each option and determine which is right for you.

How do gold IRA fees compare to traditional IRAs?

All IRAs have fees, but they are assessed differently for traditional and gold IRAs.

With a traditional IRA, you may pay a management fee that could be 1% to 2% of your account balance. Plus, mutual funds may come with their own load fees. Gold IRAs have annual account maintenance and gold storage fees.

Conventional wisdom says you’ll pay more for a gold IRA, but it depends on the costs your IRA provider charges.

Can I transfer my IRA into a gold IRA without fees?

It depends on the gold IRA company you use. Some may charge a processing fee; others will do it for free.

However, be sure that the funds transfer directly from your old IRA to your new one. If the money is sent to you first, the government might treat it as a distribution and assess a tax penalty. A trusted gold IRA company can ensure you complete this process correctly.