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Personal Finance Gold

Traditional Gold IRA Account Guide

When it comes to retirement savings, you don’t want to store your money just anywhere. Rather than using a regular bank or brokerage account, opening a traditional IRA can help you save money on taxes while investing for the future. 

An IRA—or individual retirement account—can even hold physical gold if created as a self-directed account. That isn’t as hard as it seems, and many gold IRA companies can walk you through the process. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of traditional gold IRAs, who can open an account, why you might want one, and how to get started today. 

How does a traditional gold IRA work?

A traditional IRA is funded with pre-tax dollars. In other words, contributions—up to an annual limit set by the IRS—can be deducted from your federal tax return.

Most traditional IRAs are set up to invest in securities, such as stocks and bonds. They can’t invest in what the IRS calls alternative investments, which include gold, cryptocurrency, and real estate.

However, you can invest in alternative investments with a self-directed IRA. When you open a self-directed IRA, you’ll have the option of a traditional or Roth account, each offering different tax benefits. But a traditional gold IRA account will probably be right for you if you want to lower your taxes.

Who should open a traditional gold IRA? 

A traditional gold IRA will be best for anyone who falls into the following categories:

  • Wants to minimize taxable income right now
  • Expects to be in a lower tax bracket in retirement
  • Doesn’t have access to a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k) account

If you have a 401(k) account or similar retirement plan through your employer, that doesn’t mean you can’t open a traditional gold IRA. It does, however, mean you may be unable to deduct all your contributions if your income exceeds a certain amount. 

Setting up a traditional gold IRA

To set up a traditional gold IRA, you’ll need a custodian to manage your account and a depository to store your gold. The IRS does not allow gold in an IRA to be stored at a person’s home.

Moreover, you’ll need to decide how to fund your account. The following options are most common:

  • Cash
  • IRA transfer
  • Rollover from another retirement account

Fortunately, creating an account doesn’t have to be difficult, and we’ll review some companies below that can help with the process.  

How should a gold IRA fit into your overall investment portfolio?

Jim McCarthy


It depends on the overall size of the portfolio and the portion allocated to precious metals.  Because Gold IRAs have higher costs (such as storage and insurance), they only make sense if there is a sizable allocation to precious metals.

Traditional gold IRA guidelines

The IRS has several guidelines you’ll need to adhere to if opening a traditional gold IRA account is on your radar. For one, you can only contribute so much. The 2024 limits on traditional IRAs are $7,000 in annual contributions if you’re 49 or younger and $8,000 if you’re at least 50.

These contributions are fully tax-deductible for anyone who doesn’t have access to a workplace retirement plan either through their own job or that of a spouse. Those who do have access to a 401(k) or similar account through their employer may only be able to deduct a portion of their contributions, depending on their annual modified adjusted gross income (AGI).

Tax filing statusModified AGIDeduction
Single or head of household$77,000 or lessFull contribution (up to the contribution limit for your age  group)
Single or head of household$77,001 – $86,999Partial deduction
Single or head of household$87,000+No deduction
Married filing jointly$123,000 or lessFull contribution (up to the contribution limit for your age  group)
Married filing jointly$123,001 – $142,999Partial deduction
Married filing jointly$143,000+No deduction
Married filing separately$10,000 or lessPartial deduction
Married filing separately$10,000+No deduction

If you’re part of a married couple filing jointly and have access to a 401(k) account through your spouse’s job, the deduction phase-out range falls between $230,000 and $240,000 for 2024.

Though you can technically withdraw funds from your account anytime, doing so before age 59.5 will mean a 10% penalty. At age 73, you’ll also need to start taking required minimum distributions.

Required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are the government’s way of ensuring you don’t avoid paying taxes on your IRA balance forever. Once you reach age 73, you must begin taking out RMDs from traditional retirement accounts each year. The amount is based on a formula that considers your age and account balance.

Failure to take an RMD will result in a 25% penalty based on the amount you should have withdrawn. However, correcting the error within two years may reduce the penalty to 10%.

Best traditional gold IRA companies

Many companies can help you establish and manage a traditional gold IRA account, each with its unique fee structures, services, and terms. Always shop around first and compare your options to ensure you’re getting the best fit for your long-term retirement needs.

Here are the best traditional gold IRA companies:

CompanyBest forLendEDU Rating
American Hartford GoldBest overall4.9/5
Lear CapitalInvestment support4.7/5
Patriot Gold GroupLong-term IRAs4.5/5
GoldcoBuy-back program4.4/5

American Hartford Gold: Best overall

LendEDU rating: 4.9/5

  • Earns a 4.8 out of 5 rating from customers on Trustpilot
  • Purchase gold, silver, and platinum coins and bars
  • Talk to a representative at (866) 525-9625

American Hartford Gold helps individuals and families diversify their portfolios with precious metals. The company’s three-step process for opening an account includes speaking with a representative to complete paperwork, transferring funds to the account, and purchasing metals to store in a secure vault.

The educational resource section on its website has price charts and market news to keep you informed on how your precious metals are performing.

Lear Capital: Best investment support

LendEDU rating: 4.7/5

  • Take up to 24 hours after placing an order to reconsider without any penalties
  • Offers a price-match guarantee
  • Free evaluation of metals from other companies

Lear Capital offers multiple unique benefits. These benefits include a price-match guarantee where the company will consider matching better prices found elsewhere, a 24-hour risk-free period to cancel your order if you change your mind, and online portfolio tracking.

Patriot Gold Group: Best for long-term IRAs

LendEDU rating: 4.5/5

  • Accounts over $100,000 have no storage, shipping, rollover, or setup fees
  • Must purchase at least $50,000 in metals to open an account

Patriot Gold Group can be a good option for long-term IRAs if the account is over $100,000 since the company waives fees for accounts of this size. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and 5 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, as of March 7, 2024.

Patriot Gold Group can assist with setting up and funding your gold IRA account, purchasing your metals, and funding your account.

Goldco: Best buy-back guarantee

LendEDU rating: 4.4/5

  • Has been in business for 14 years
  • Requires a minimum account balance of $25,000
  • A+ rating with BBB

Another highly-rated gold IRA firm is Goldco, which has an A+ with BBB and 4.7 stars on Trustpilot, as of March 7, 2024.

Goldco’s standout feature is its wide array of educational content, which can help you learn more about gold investments and make better choices regarding yours. The company also has easily accessible customer service—available via chat, phone, and email.

Traditional gold IRA vs. other account types

A traditional IRA isn’t the only account that allows for investing in gold and precious metals. Both Roth and SEP IRAs may be set up as self-directed accounts and used to hold physical gold.

Here’s how the three accounts differ:

Traditional IRARoth IRASEP IRA
Funded with pre-tax dollars, contributions are deductible.Funded with after-tax dollars, contributions are not deductible. Either a traditional or Roth account. 
Withdrawals in retirement are taxable. Withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.The tax status of withdrawals depends on whether a traditional or Roth SEP IRA is used.
Best if you expect your tax bracket to be lower in retirement.Best if you expect your tax bracket to be higher in retirementBest for self-employed people and business owners.
Contribution limit 2024: $7,000 if you’re 49 or younger, 
$8,000 if you’re 50 or older
Contribution limit 2024: 
$7,000 if you’re 49 or younger,  $8,000 if you’re 50 or older
Contribution limit 2024:
$69,000 or 25% of your annual compensation, whichever is less. 
Deductible contributions are limited if you have access to a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k)Contributions begin to phase out at incomes of $146,000 for single taxpayers

$230,000 for married couples filing jointly 
Must be self-employed or work for a self-employed person

Employees must work for the business at least three of the last five years

It’s best to work with a financial planner to assess if a gold IRA is appropriate for you.

Jim McCarthy


Is a traditional gold IRA worth it?

Traditional gold IRAs can come with serious perks, but they aren’t perfect for everyone. 

The following are some of the biggest benefits of using a traditional gold IRA:

  • Contributions are deductible, which reduces your taxable income now.
  • Investments grow tax-deferred until retirement.
  • Funds from an existing IRA or 401(k) can be rolled into a traditional gold IRA.
  • Holding physical gold may provide a hedge against inflation.

Here are some reasons why some may choose a different investment vehicle.

  • There is a 10% penalty if money is withdrawn before age 59½ except in limited situations.
  • Withdrawals in retirement are taxable.
  • Required minimum distributions must be taken beginning at age 73. 

If these cons have you thinking twice about a traditional gold IRA, you may find a Roth account is a better fit. Roth gold IRAs can also hold physical gold, and they come with a separate set of tax benefits. 

Most notably, while contributions to a Roth IRA are not deductible, withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. Plus, they have no required minimum distributions, and since contributions have already been taxed, you may be able to withdraw them without penalty when needed.

Working with a financial professional is one way to determine which retirement account is best for you. Many gold IRA companies have experienced representatives who can walk you through your options.