What is a Precious Metals Self Directed IRA?

What is a Precious Metals Self Directed IRA?

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A brief explanation of a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA

A Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that allows investors to include physical precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in their retirement portfolio.

This specialized IRA allows investors to diversify their investments beyond traditional assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, thereby potentially reducing the overall risk and volatility of their retirement savings.

Importance of diversification in retirement planning

Diversification is a crucial aspect of retirement planning, as it helps spread risk across various investments. By incorporating various asset classes into a retirement portfolio, investors can potentially mitigate the impact of market fluctuations and economic downturns on their nest egg.

A Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA offers a way to include tangible assets, such as gold and silver, in a diversified investment strategy, providing additional protection against inflation and economic uncertainties.

Understanding a Self-Directed IRA

Definition and Purpose of a Self-Directed IRA

A Self-Directed IRA is a form of individual retirement account that gives investors more control over their investment choices.

Unlike traditional IRAs, which often limit investment options to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, a Self Directed IRA permits a broader range of assets, including private equity, real estate, and precious metals.

This expanded investment flexibility enables investors to diversify their portfolios and potentially achieve higher returns by exploring alternative asset classes.

How it differs from a traditional IRA

The primary difference between a Self Directed IRA and a traditional IRA lies in the range of permissible investments. While traditional IRAs are typically restricted to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, Self Directed IRAs permit a broader range of asset classes, such as:

  • Real estate
  • Private Equity
  • Precious metals
  • Private lending
  • Limited partnerships

In addition to the expanded investment options, a Self-Directed IRA also requires the appointment of a specialized custodian. This custodian manages the account, ensures compliance with IRS regulations, and provides required reporting.

It's worth noting that the investor, not the custodian, is responsible for conducting due diligence and making investment decisions within the Self-Directed IRA.

Benefits of a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA

  • Portfolio diversification

A Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA offers investors an opportunity to diversify their retirement portfolio by including physical precious metals. This diversification helps spread the risk across various asset classes, potentially reducing the impact of market volatility on the overall portfolio.

Including tangible assets like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium can counterbalance traditional paper-based investments such as stocks and bonds.

  • Hedge against inflation

Precious metals, particularly gold, have historically served as a hedge against inflation. As the purchasing power of paper currencies decreases due to inflation, the value of precious metals often increases, thereby preserving the investor's wealth.

Including precious metals in a Self-Directed IRA can help protect retirement savings from the eroding effects of inflation.

  • Protection during economic uncertainty

During economic uncertainty or geopolitical tensions, investors often turn to precious metals as a safe haven investment. Precious metals tend to hold their value or even appreciate during turbulent economic periods, protecting investors' retirement portfolios.

A Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA offers the opportunity to include such haven assets in a retirement investment strategy.

  • Potential for long-term growth

Precious metals, especially gold, and silver, have demonstrated a long-term growth trend over the past several decades.

Although past performance does not indicate future results, the historical growth of precious metals suggests that they may offer the potential for long-term appreciation in a retirement portfolio. By investing in a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA, investors can benefit from this long-term growth trend.

Types of Precious Metals Allowed in a Self-Directed IRA


Gold is a popular choice for investors looking to include precious metals in their Self-Directed IRA. The IRS permits certain gold coins and bullion that meet specific purity requirements. Approved gold investments for a Self Directed IRA include:

  • American Gold Eagle coins
  • American Gold Buffalo coins
  • Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins
  • Austrian Gold Philharmonic coins
  • Gold bars and rounds produced by a COMEX or NYMEX-approved refinery with a minimum fineness of .995


Silver is another widely held precious metal in Self-Directed IRAs. Like gold, the IRS has established specific purity requirements for silver coins and bullion. Approved silver investments for a Self-Directed IRA include:

  • American Silver Eagle coins
  • Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins
  • Austrian Silver Philharmonic coins
  • Australian Silver Kookaburra coins
  • Silver bars and rounds produced by a COMEX or NYMEX-approved refinery with a minimum fineness of .999


Platinum, a rare and valuable precious metal, is also eligible for inclusion in a Self-Directed IRA. The IRS has set forth purity requirements for platinum coins and bullion. Approved platinum investments for a Self Directed-IRA include:

  • American Platinum Eagle coins
  • Canadian Platinum Maple Leaf coins
  • Australian Platinum Koala coins
  • Platinum bars and rounds produced by a COMEX or NYMEX-approved refinery with a minimum fineness of .9995


Palladium is a lesser-known but increasingly popular precious metal for investors. As with other precious metals, the IRS has established purity requirements for palladium coins and bullion. Approved palladium investments for a Self-Directed IRA include:

Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf coins

Palladium bars and rounds produced by a COMEX or NYMEX-approved refinery with a minimum fineness of .9995

IRS-approved purity levels and forms

It's essential to note that the IRS has strict requirements regarding the purity and form of precious metals included in a Self-Directed IRA. To be eligible, precious metals must meet or exceed the minimum fineness levels outlined above and be in the form of coins, bars, or rounds.

Collectible items, such as numismatic coins or jewelry, are not permitted in a Self-Directed IRA.

Setting up a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA

  • Choosing a custodian

Selecting a custodian is the first step in setting up a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA. A custodian is a financial institution, typically a bank or trust company, responsible for holding and administering the assets in the IRA.

Choosing a custodian specializing in Self-Directed IRAs and who has experience handling precious metals investments is essential. Some factors to consider when selecting a custodian include the following:

  • Experience and reputation in the industry
  • Fees and charges associated with the account
  • Customer service and support
  • Ease of use and accessibility of online tools and resources
  • Opening an account

Once a custodian is chosen, the investor must open a Self-Directed IRA account. The process typically involves completing an account application, providing personal identification documents, and selecting a beneficiary.

The custodian will guide the investor through the process and help ensure all required documentation is completed accurately.

  • Funding the account

After the account is opened, it must be funded before any investments can be made. Funding a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA can be done through various methods, such as:

Direct contributions: Investors can contribute up to the annual IRA contribution limit, which is subject to change and may depend on the investor's age and income.

Rollovers: Investors can roll over funds from an existing IRA or a qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k), into the Self-Directed IRA. Rollovers must be executed in compliance with IRS regulations to avoid taxes and penalties.

Transfers: Investors can transfer funds between IRAs held at different custodians, provided that both accounts are the same type (e.g., transferring funds from one traditional IRA to another).

Selecting and purchasing precious metals

Once the account is funded, the investor can begin selecting and purchasing precious metals. The investor should work with a reputable precious metals dealer that offers IRA-approved products and has experience working with Self Directed IRA custodians.

Some factors to consider when selecting a precious metals dealer include the following:

  • Reputation and experience in the industry
  • Range of IRA-approved products offered
  • Pricing and fees associated with the purchase
  • Shipping and handling policies

When purchasing precious metals for a Self-Directed IRA, it is crucial to ensure they meet the IRS's purity requirements and are in an eligible form, as discussed in Section IV.

Storing the metals in a depository

IRS regulations require storing precious metals in a Self-Directed IRA in an approved depository. A depository is a secure storage facility that holds precious metals and other valuable assets.

The custodian and the investor will coordinate with the depository to arrange for the storage and safekeeping of the purchased metals. Some factors to consider when selecting a depository include:

  • Security measures and protocols in place
  • Insurance coverage for stored assets
  • Access to online inventory and reporting tools
  • Storage fees and charges

Managing Your Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA

  • Keeping track of investments

Investors need to monitor and track their Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA investments actively. Most custodians provide online tools and resources that enable investors to access their account information, review their holdings, and track the performance of their investments.

Regularly reviewing and assessing the performance of the precious metals in the IRA can help investors make informed decisions about adjusting their investment strategy.

  • Rebalancing the portfolio

Over time, the value of various assets in a retirement portfolio may fluctuate, causing the original allocation percentages to shift. Periodic rebalancing can help investors maintain their desired level of diversification and ensure that their portfolio aligns with their risk tolerance and financial goals.

Rebalancing a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA may involve selling some precious metals and reallocating the proceeds to other investments or vice versa.

  • Withdrawals and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Like other types of IRAs, a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA is subject to withdrawal rules and required minimum distributions (RMDs). Investors can begin taking penalty-free withdrawals from their IRA once they reach the age of 59½.

However, investors must start taking RMDs from their account by April 1 of the year following the year in which they turn 72 (or 70½ if they turned 70½ before January 1, 2020).

When taking a distribution from a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA, investors can receive the distribution in the form of the physical precious metals held in their account or as a cash equivalent.

The distribution will be subject to income taxes, and investors should consult with a tax professional to determine the best approach for their specific situation.

  • Tax implications

Contributions to a traditional Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA may be tax-deductible, depending on the investor's income and tax-filing status. The earnings on investments within the IRA grow tax-deferred, meaning taxes are not due until the funds are withdrawn in retirement.

Withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxed as ordinary income.

Conversely, contributions to a Roth Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA are made with after-tax dollars and, therefore, are not tax-deductible. However, the earnings on investments within the Roth IRA grow tax-free, and qualified withdrawals in retirement are not subject to income tax.

Investors need to understand the tax implications of their IRA and consult with a tax professional when making decisions about contributions and withdrawals.

Risks and Considerations

  • Market fluctuations

Like all investments, precious metals are subject to market fluctuations, and their value can rise or fall over time.

While precious metals have historically demonstrated long-term growth and served as a hedge against inflation, there is no guarantee that these trends will continue in the future. Investors need to be mindful of the possibility of market fluctuations.

When investing in a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA and should carefully consider their risk tolerance and financial goals.

  • Storage fees

As the IRS requires, storing precious metals in a depository typically involves storage fees. These fees can vary depending on the depository and the number of precious metals held in the account.

Investors should factor in these costs when considering a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA. They should periodically review their account to ensure that storage fees are not negatively impacting their overall investment returns.

  • Limited liquidity

Physical precious metals, like gold and silver, may be less liquid than other investment assets, such as stocks or bonds. Selling precious metals and converting them to cash can take longer and may involve additional fees, such as dealer commissions or shipping costs.

Investors should consider the potential liquidity constraints when investing in a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA and should maintain a well-diversified portfolio to ensure access to more liquid assets when needed.

  • Regulatory changes

Investors should be aware of the potential for regulatory changes that may impact their Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA. Changes to tax laws or IRA regulations could affect the tax treatment, investment options, or withdrawal rules associated with the account.

Staying informed about regulatory changes and working with a knowledgeable custodian can help investors navigate any potential changes and adjust their investment strategy appropriately.


A Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA offers investors a unique opportunity to diversify their retirement portfolio by incorporating physical precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

This type of IRA can serve as a hedge against inflation, protect economic uncertainty, and offer potential long-term growth. However, investing in a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA also involves certain risks and considerations, such as market fluctuations, storage fees, and limited liquidity.

By carefully evaluating their financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment options, investors can determine if a Precious Metals Self-Directed IRA is suitable for their retirement planning strategy.

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Charles Turner

Hi, I'm Charles Turner, founder of Turner Investments.  I created Turner Investments to provide education and guidance to individuals interested in personal finance.

My goal is to make Turner Investments a valuable resource for anyone looking to learn more about personal finance and make smarter investment decisions.