traditional IRA and gold ira

Traditional IRAGold IRA
Permitted AssetsStocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other common paper assetsGold, silver, platinum, palladium, and other tangible assets
ControlInvestments are typically made by a broker on the investor’s behalfInvestor directs trades on their own with advice from a broker
CostSlightly more expensive to maintain due to the more active role of the brokerUsually less expensive than traditional retirement accounts
RiskHeightened counterparty risk as investors rely on asset managers to handle their assets responsiblyLittle-to-no counterparty risk as investors have direct control over what assets are bought and how they’re held
RMD FlexibilityMost RMDS take in-cash which means investors lose their asset’s growth potential and protectionInvestors can make their RMDs by taking ownership of their physical metals instead of cashing out
PrivacyInvestors are more exposed to government influence and market manipulation through fiat-backed assetsInvestors gain greater privacy through tangible assets with inherent value that are stored privately

A retirement account is the cornerstone of a smart, stable, and prosperous retirement plan. These accounts allow for tax-deferred growth and tax-free contributions among a variety of other incentives. When searching for the best plan, you might wonder about the difference between a traditional IRA and a gold IRA. These retirement programs have similar structures yet key distinctions that require some extra digging, so investors find the perfect choice for their retirement goals.

Traditional vs Gold IRA: Similarities & Differences

Both traditional and self-directed IRAs are individual retirement accounts with tax-deferred advantages designed to help investors put away funds for retirement. In every type of IRA, these funds are invested into some type of asset with the goal of compounded growth in the long run. Investors can contribute pre-tax dollars to these accounts, maximizing their gains.

However, that’s where the similarities end. Understanding how these IRAs differ is essential for making the best decision based on your investment goals.

Permitted Assets

The most glaring difference between a traditional IRA and a gold IRA is the type of investments you can hold. Along with most mainstream retirement plans, a traditional IRA limits you to paper-backed assets such as individual stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Alternatively, a gold IRA, a type of self-directed retirement account, allows you to fill your nest egg with a variety of tangible assets including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. The variety of assets permitted through a gold IRA makes it easier to build a truly diversified retirement plan.

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Savvy investors understand the advantages that come with controlling their investments rather than relying on a third-party provider. While it’s not realistic for most people to actively manage their entire nest egg, it’s a good idea to have full control over at least a portion of your retirement plan. That’s where a gold IRA can come in handy. These investment plans give you direct ownership and control over bullion, coins, and other IRA-eligible precious metals. Working with a dedicated Precious Metals Advisor can make it easier to pinpoint the best assets based on your specific goals. However, you’re still maintaining a greater level of control when compared with traditional IRAs where asset managers usually trade on your behalf.


There’s a common misunderstanding that standard retirement accounts are more affordable and easier to maintain than their less popular counterparts. In reality, having a gold IRA might cost you less than a traditional IRA which can come with a range of hidden expenses. For instance, you’re often on the hook for management and transaction fees since traditional IRAs require more active oversight. That can add up over the years. With a gold IRA, on the other hand, you’ll only pay a one-time setup fee, annual account costs, and storage expenses. That’s about it. Don’t let the popularity of traditional IRAs trick you into thinking it’s automatically a more affordable option.


Although traditional IRAs are more common, they tend to carry more risk than gold IRAs. A retirement account comprised primarily of paper-backed assets leaves your wealth exposed to market volatility, institutional manipulation, and even criminal activity. A traditional IRA also opens you up to more counterparty risk since your retirement plan’s success becomes dependent upon more people such as asset managers and brokers. Although there’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, gold IRAs are generally more secure since the investments are tangible and privately stored.

RMD Flexibility

All tax-deferred retirement plans, including traditional and gold IRAs, are subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) which represent the minimum funds investors need to take out of their accounts after turning 73. Typically, investors cash out of traditional IRAs by selling their paper-backed assets, effectively losing all the advantages of the investment. When it comes to precious metals, investors can meet their RMD requirement without selling their metal assets. Through an in-kind distribution, you take physical ownership of investments that were held in your gold IRA. This allows you to avoid tax penalties while maintaining the integrity of your investments.

👉 Related Reading: Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for IRAs


Many investors have serious privacy concerns about their retirement savings given recent trends of government overreach and market manipulation. The Biden administration’s passing of Executive Order 14067 which explores the potential of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) has only exacerbated these reservations. Through a traditional IRA, your nest egg is limited to fiat-backed assets which are inherently more prone to oversight and control. Conversely, a gold IRA ensures your wealth is shielded against intrusive or manipulative moves because it’s stored in physical assets under private storage.

If you’re interested in learning whether a gold IRA is the right retirement plan for diversifying your investment goals, contact one of our Precious Metal Advisors today by calling toll-free at 1 (888) 812-9892 or via our live chat function.