Updated April 7, 2023

Rollover 401k to Gold

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Can you roll over your 401(k) to gold? What's the best way to avoid penalties? Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Are you tired of playing stock market rollercoaster with your 401(k)?

If you're looking for a more stable investment for retirement, you may be interested in converting some funds to a gold IRA.

But can you really roll over your 401(k) to gold? Are there tax penalties?

This article will go over how to roll over your 401(k) to gold and the potential impact on your financial future.

Can you Invest in Gold with a 401(k)?

The short answer is that no, you cannot invest in gold directly with your 401(k). Employer-sponsored 401(k)s are typically managed by third parties and have limited investment choices. Often, they're pre-selected funds. So you can't just invest in physical gold and other alternative assets.

If you want to invest in physical gold for retirement, the best option is to roll over your 401(k) to a gold IRA. This involves transferring funds to a self-directed IRA account. You'll have more freedom to choose assets you want invest in (like actual gold coins).

We'll go over how a gold IRA rollover works, tax implications, and other important considerations.

How much can I contribute to my 401(k) in 2023?
According to the IRS, the contribution limit for a 401(k) for 2023 is $22,500. For those 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $7,500 for a total of up to $30,000.[1]

What is a Gold IRA Rollover?

A gold IRA rollover is when you transfer your 401(k) funds to a gold IRA. This will be a self-directed IRA account where you can invest in physical gold and other precious metals.

You can only open an account with a specialized gold IRA provider. They will set you up with a self-directed IRA custodian, help you purchase gold coins, and store them safely.

Gold IRAs must follow strict IRS rules. For example, you can only buy specific coins, and you can't store them yourself. That's why you need to do the rollover through a gold IRA company, because they'll make sure you stay compliant.

When done correctly, a gold IRA rollover won't trigger a taxable event. We'll go over this in detail later, so read on.

Gold Rollover vs. Gold Transfer:
A gold IRA rollover is when you move funds between different account types (like from a 401k to a gold IRA). A gold IRA transfer is when you move funds between the same account type (IRA to gold IRA). For both, there's no tax penalty if you don't withdraw funds.

How Gold IRA Rollover Works

Here are the steps to rolling over your 401(k) to a gold IRA:

1. Choose a gold IRA custodian
This is an important decision because this company will be your partner in this journey. You'll be trusting them with your retirement savings. They will take care of everything from helping you purchase coins to taking distributions.

Not sure where to start? Some of the most reputable and trusted gold IRA companies are Augusta Precious Metals, Goldco, and Birch Gold Group.

2. Choose direct or indirect rollover
There are 2 kinds of rollovers you can choose:

  • A direct rollover means transferring funds directly from your 401(k) to gold IRA account without withdrawing them. This is the easiest way and has no tax penalties.

  • An indirect rollover means you actually withdraw funds from your 401(k). You must reinvest the funds into your gold IRA within 60 days to avoid IRS penalties.[2]

You can roll over all, or just a portion, of your 401(k). But it's probably not a good idea to roll over everything, and we'll talk about why in a bit.

How much does it cost to start a gold IRA?
Most gold IRA companies require a $10,000 to $50,000 initial investment to open an account. You'll also pay a one-time setup fee, usually ranging $50 - $200. In addition, the custodial and storage fee typically cost $200 - $300 per year.

3. Fill out the rollover paperwork
You'll need to fill out paperwork to initiate the rollover. But don't worry, your gold IRA company will help you with that. They'll even talk to your current 401(k) custodian for you, making it as painless for you as possible.

4. Fund the gold IRA account
If it's a direct rollover, the funds will go directly to your gold IRA custodian. They'll take care of getting it to your account.

If you choose an indirect rollover, your 401(k) trustee will send a check to you. It'll be your responsibility to deposit the funds in your new gold IRA within 60 days to avoid taxes.

5. Buy gold coins
Once your rollover is complete and your account is funded, you can use the cash to buy gold. Your gold IRA company will have a variety of IRS-compliant coins for you to choose from.

They'll also make sure your coins are properly stored in an IRS-compliant depository, where they'll stay safe until you withdraw.

How long does a gold IRA rollover take?
While it may only take you one business day to open a gold IRA, the rollover itself can take longer. It can take your current 401(k) custodian up to a couple of weeks to transfer funds to your new gold IRA account.

Are Gold IRA Rollovers Taxed?

There is no tax penalty if you move your 401(k) funds directly to your gold IRA custodian without withdrawing them. Because it's not a withdrawal, it won't trigger a taxable event.

However, an indirect rollover could have tax implications if you're under 59-1/2. With this option, you actually withdraw the funds from your 401(k). The IRS allows you 60 days to deposit the funds into your gold IRA.[2] If you don't, you'll pay income tax on the amount withdrawn plus a 10% penalty.

Taxes will apply if you roll over your 401k to a Gold Roth IRA, since those are 2 different types of IRAs. You'll need to pay income tax on the amount in the year you do the rollover.[3] But after that, qualified withdrawals from your Gold Roth IRA are tax-free.

Here are some other Gold IRA tax rules to be aware of:

  • There is no maximum if you roll over funds from a 401k.
  • Additional contributions will need to follow the IRS annual limits of $$6,500 per year (or $7,500 for 50 or older).[4]
  • Withdrawing early before age 59-1/2 has a 10% penalty.

Should You Rollover Your 401k to Gold?

A gold IRA rollover could be a good option if you're worried about your dollars losing value due to inflation. Having some physical gold can offer a sense of security and control over your investments.

But it's not advised to roll over all of your retirement funds into gold. Gold doesn't offer the same growth potential as stocks, nor does it generate income. You'll miss out on the growth opportunities from other investments.

If you're counting on your 401(k) to support you in retirement, you'll still need assets that continue to grow.

It's recommended that the amount of your 401(k) to roll over to gold should vary based on your financial situation and risk tolerance.

Gold can also be volatile and experience price drops. Remember that in an IRA, you must start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) at age 72. If you must take your RMD at a time when gold is down, you could even have to sell at a loss.

Can you Roll Over a 401k to Gold IRA While Still Employed?

Your current employer may let you move your 401k funds to an IRA while still working with them. This is called an in-service rollover.

If your employer allows for it, there will likely be rules. Typically, you have to be a certain age (usually 59-1/2) and must have had the account for a certain length of time.

But not all employers allow for in-service rollovers. Some may not let you withdraw from your 401(k) until you leave the job or retire. So check with your 401(k) administrator if it's possible before you initiate it.

What is the best option to rollover 401k?
The easiest and quickest option is to do a direct rollover of your 401(k) to an IRA. This is when funds are directly transferred to the IRA account without withdrawing them, so there are no IRS tax penalties.

If you're not eligible for 401k rollover, it's best to wait until you reach the eligible age. Otherwise, it may trigger a tax penalty if you withdraw early.

No matter when you're looking to roll over your 401(k), here are the best gold IRA companies to consider.

Best Gold IRA Rollover Companies

Like mentioned earlier, you need to work with a gold IRA company in order to invest in gold and other precious metals. Most will offer several types of gold IRAs, including Traditional, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE and SEP accounts.

Most physical gold IRA providers have a lot in common, but may vary in areas such as:

  • Metals supported (gold, silver, platinum, palladium)
  • Minimum investment requirement
  • Fees and pricing
    Eligible rollover accounts supported
  • Depository storage options
  • Buyback services

While we recommend doing further research before deciding on a provider, here's a brief overview of some of the most reputable gold IRAs on the market.

Augusta Precious Metals
Augusta Precious Metals is know for superior customer service. Before you even open an account, you can get a free gold coin just to learn about gold IRAs (no obligation).

If you do open a gold IRA with them, you get lifetime account support from their entire team of gold specialists.

Minimum investment$50,000
Precious metals offeredGold and silver
Eligible rollover accountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b)
IRA custodian usedEquity Trust (recommended)
Depository usedDelaware Depository (recommended)
Buyback programYes
BBB gradeA+

Goldco is one of the most popular gold IRA companies. They often offer a silver coins promo when you open a gold IRA. And they have a highest buyback price guarantee, which can help you feel more confident about the purchase.

Minimum investment$25,000 recommended
Precious metals offeredGold, silver, platinum, and palladium
Eligible rollover accountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, Pensions, TSP
IRA custodian usedAll major Self-Directed IRA custodians
Depository usedDelaware Depository
Buyback programYes
BBB gradeA+[5]

American Hartford Gold
Check out American Hartford Gold if you only want to roll over a little bit of your funds to a gold IRA. Their minimum is just $5,000. They will assist you with the paperwork for the rollover.

Minimum investment$5,000
Precious metals offeredGold, silver, platinum, and palladium
Eligible rollover accountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, TSP
IRA custodian usedEquity Trust
Depository usedDelaware Depository, Brinks Global Services, International Depository Services
Buyback programYes
BBB gradeA+

Other gold IRA providers you might consider include:

These providers will help you when it comes time to roll over your existing retirement account. And many of them go out of their way to provide personalized customer support.

Bottom Line

A gold IRA rollover could be a smart move if you want to protect your wealth, as gold has historically retained its value. But before making decisions, do your research to see if it makes sense for you. Consider factors like fees, storage costs, and the tax implications of this investment.

If you do decide to do a rollover, it's important to find the right gold IRA company to work with. You'll want to work with a reputable company that has experience in gold IRA rollovers and can offer competitive pricing and excellent customer service.


  1. ^ Internal Revenue Service. 401(k) and Profit-Sharing Plan Contribution Limits, Retrieved 4/7/2023
  2. ^ Internal Revenue Service. Rollovers of Retirement Plan and IRA Distributions, Retrieved 4/7/2023.
  3. ^ Internal Revenue Service. Rollover to a Roth IRA or a Designated Roth Account, Retrived 4/7/2023.
  4. ^ Internal Revenue Service. Retirement Topics - IRA Contribution Limits, Retrived 4/7/2023.
  5. ^ GOLDCO: Better Business Bureau profile. BBB. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2023

Jeremy Harshman is a creative assistant at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Jeremy Harshman at jeremy.harshman@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.


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By Jeremy Harshman - Tips
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