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How to Execute a 401(k) to a Gold IRA Rollover

Written by Peter Anderson

In today's economy, hedging against inflation is a vital step in maintaining the value of your retirement account; on this page I break down how to do so by rolling over your 401(k) into a gold IRA.

Precious metals allow you to hedge against both inflation and economic uncertainty, so including them in your retirement plan could be a smart move.

Many people have a traditional retirement account with the thought that it’s more than enough to get them by – 20 years ago maybe, but in this economy the value of our currency is falling fast.

Below, I break down how to convert your 401(k) into a gold IRA without being penalized. It’s a relatively simple process if you invest with a reputable company such as my number one choice, Augusta Precious Metals, or other gold IRA providers who do the work for you. 

Some of the links in this article are from sponsors. The list below is an honest review gathered from thorough research, experience, and consumer-based feedback.

Benefits of Opening a Gold IRA

How to Execute a Rollover into a Gold IRA

You're thinking you want to convert your money from your 401(k) to a gold IRA. There are a few steps that you must take to achieve your goal:

First, you need to identify an expert gold IRA provider who can give you reliable information about precious metals and help you navigate and bring together the resources to open your gold IRA.

Second, you need to choose a self-directed custodian to oversee the new gold IRA account. 

Third, you will need to open a new account with your gold IRA custodian so that the precious metals can be purchased and maintained in a secure storage facility. 

Lastly, you will have to process the rollover of the funds from your previous accounts to your new gold IRA account so that the provider and custodian can acquire the metals on your behalf. 

The process is easy when you have the support of a respected gold IRA provider as you navigate the steps. Here is a breakdown of each step and how to ensure you get the best results at the end:

401K to Gold IRA Rollover Guide:

Step 1. Find a Gold IRA Provider

A gold IRA is different from traditional IRAs because it contains physical precious metals – usually coins and bars – whereas traditional IRAs contain assets such as stocks and bonds.

Most retirement investors need to learn some new things about these assets, and gold and silver providers are best equipped to do that.

A respected gold IRA provider will not only supply you with information but will guide you through the steps of opening your new account, engaging the services of a specialized custodian, choosing your metals, and determining where they will be stored in a secure facility.

These providers are experts on the actual precious metals you will have in your account. The best ones will stand with you as you complete the paperwork, choose the metals and complete your transaction but will also remain as a resource for the duration of your account until you are ready to liquidate it.

I've done my homework to find the best gold IRA companies to invest with. Click here to see which ones are the best, and why I chose Augusta Precious Metals as my #1 choice.

Step 2. Identify Your Self-Directed IRA Custodian

The next thing you need to do is figure out the person who will be the administrator or custodian of the gold IRA. It is actually illegal for a person to keep the gold invested in an IRA themselves.

A custodian is typically a company that will keep records of all transactions and provide documentation and services that are for you and the IRS.

Their job is to orchestrate the buying and selling of the precious metals that you choose to invest in and perform all these transactions on behalf of the account owner.

Many investment companies do not include physical assets in their IRA offerings. These are mostly Wall Street firms and other financial advisors who want you to invest your money in stocks and bonds because those are the assets they are used to offering and getting commission for. 

When you choose to open a gold IRA account, make sure that the firm you are choosing to invest with is specifically set up to administer a “self-directed” IRA. 

With a self-direct IRA, the account owner is taking personal control of their assets within the IRA and are not relying on the services of the company to make decisions. For more information on these steps, I suggest contacting Augusta for a walkthrough of the process, even if you don't plan to invest with them.

Step 3. Open Your Account

Now that you know who is going to administer the new gold IRA account, you need to open it so your gold IRA provider and custodian can get it started. The custodian will need to work with the gold and silver provider to help with the purchasing and selling of the gold or other precious metals that you choose to invest in.

Once the provider’s order desk has worked with you to identify the items you want, they will work with the custodian to broker the deal and get the items transferred to a secure facility that specializes in storing physical gold and silver coins and bars.

The custodian ensures that your account follow IRS rules, from the way the account is set up to where the metals are being stored. They record the amount you purchased for your gold IRA, and the documentation is sent to the account owner (you) and the IRS for their records. 

You can open a gold IRA with any amount of money depending on who you work with.

Sometimes there is no minimum amount for investing in a gold IRA, but most gold IRA companies require that you invest enough to make it worth holding. 

Some companies have investment minimums of $5,000 - $50,000.

Step 4. Execute the Rollover

The next thing you need to do is roll the money over from your previous retirement account to your new gold IRA account. There are two different ways to do it: direct and indirect. 

A direct rollover describes moving the money by directly transferring dollars from your previous account to the new IRA custodian/trustee. Your gold IRA company can help you get everything ready and communicate with your custodian to make it happen.

Indirect rollovers are more complicated, as the funds of your previous retirement account are given directly to you, the owner of the account, with the intention that you will take responsibility for transferring funds into your new gold IRA and not keep the funds as a distribution. 

There will be more paperwork on the part of the account owner to prove that this was done, and that can make using the direct rollover method more appealing. 

Most experts suggest the direct rollover because it involves less paperwork and is less complicated.

Eligible Accounts:

The money that you roll over to your gold IRA can come from pretty much any other retirement account.

You can roll over funds from a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, and a few other eligible accounts, like a 401(k), 403(b), 457, and federal Thrift Savings Plans. 

If the funds are being transferred from a Roth IRA, have the gold IRA set up as a Roth IRA as well. This way you can preserve the tax benefits of a Roth IRA, including the tax-free growth, provided that the funds remain in the Roth account for no less than five years. 

How to Move your 401k to Gold Without Penalty:

To transfer your 401(k) to gold without penalty, you need to set up a self-directed IRA Account with a precious metals custodian/trustee. Then, you do a trustee-to-trustee transfer from the original 401(k) account to the new self-directed IRA account, all within less than 60 days.  

If you take longer than 60 days, the funds will be considered a “distribution of funds” from the 401(k), and be liable to any taxes of such a transfer. 

Step 5. Purchase Gold

Once the rollover is executed, then your gold IRA company can use its extensive knowledge of the products to help you choose and purchase the precious metals and get them sent to a reputable secure storage facility you choose. 

It is helpful to have a company like Augusta that has long-time relationships with trusted custodians and storage facilities – they’ll help you vet the options and choose the ones that meet IRA standards and are right for you.

There are thousands of options in the marketplace, but it is important to know that the IRS will only accept certain forms of gold and silver that meet their guidelines. 

Gold or silver coins and bars in an IRA must meet purity standards.  Gold must be 99.5% pure with one exception: the American Gold Eagle coin, which is 91.67% pure. Silver coins and bars in an IRA must be 99.9% pure.

In the end, you are the one who decides which products to purchase for your IRA. Make sure your gold IRA provider officially confirms your transaction and gives you complete paperwork with all the details of your purchase.

Also, be sure to ask questions about how your gold and silver will be shipped, including insurance covering it during the trip to the storage facility.

My Recommendation for Your Rollover

Now that I explained how to do a 401(k) to gold IRA rollover, here is the company that I think is the best choice to manage your gold IRA:

#1 Goldco- Best Customer Service & Business Ratings 

Goldco is best known for their low barrier to entry with a minimum investment of just $25,000.

They have a great customer service team and are one of the most transparent IRA companies you'll find.

This is a great choice for beginner investors as well as those who have been investing for decades.

Augusta Precious Metals #1 - Best Company for Rollovers/401k-goldco/401k-goldco

#2 Augusta Precious Metals - Best Customer Feedback

$50k minimum investment

No other company walks you through the rollover process like Augusta does.

  • Great one-on-one web conference with Harvard-trained economist
  • Trusted by Joe Montana: his advisors anonymously found Augusta
  • Complete transparency, no hidden fees, competitive prices 
  • No pressure sales floor
  • solely focused on gold and silver IRAs for their entire existence, unlike other companies

Why Would You Execute a 401k to Gold IRA Rollover?

A 401(k) is a retirement account that is meant to use the stock market to invest your funds in hopes that they will grow as the stock market grows too.

This is common way people attempt to increase the value of their investment.

However, though popular, having a standard 401(k) does come with some risks.

As the stock market rises and falls, so too does the money invested into it. 

We have seen this in the past. When the market becomes unstable and takes a deep plunge, so too will your money, and you'll have no way to recuperate what was lost until the market restores itself.

This knowledge may cause a person to pull what money they have from their 401(k) for fear of instability, but there is an alternate form of investment that could give you better security.

Most people are not aware of this as it is typically something that in the past has been reserved for those who are more financially savvy and spend their time learning unique ins and outs of investing.

Yet, here I will discuss with you how to take your hard-earned money and turn it into a concrete investment in the one currency that is truly universal: Gold.

What is a Gold-Backed IRA? 

A Gold IRA is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that allows its owner to invest their funds in gold as a form of qualified retirement investment.

Though it is titled a “Gold IRA”, the precious metals available for this kind of account range from platinum, palladium, gold, or silver. Whatever kind of metal you choose to invest in, these metals come from national, NYMEX or COMEX certified mints where they have been processed for purification and have been verified to meet the standards of the metal trade.

These investments are physical metals in the forms of coins, rounds, or bullions, which are bars or ingots of pure precious metals that have been assessed and are officially recognized as being 99.5% to 99.9% pure by the governments and central banks. 

 A Gold IRA is not kept in a traditional retirement account as it does involve physical investments as opposed to the digital bookkeeping that is used for funds invested in the stock market.

There are also more rules on the management of the account and how the physical pieces are to be maintained to keep their integrity intact.

The previous metals must be kept in a safe place with a custodian who will oversee their care.

There must also be a broker involved to obtain the metals and to have them transferred between buyer and seller.

$25,000 Minimum Investment

Free portfolio reviews for all clients

*Most Professional

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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gold-Backed IRA


The biggest advantage to having a Gold IRA account instead of a standard 401(k) can be summarized by a single word: Control.

You won't be subject to market changes, inflation, and the political climate with a precious metals IRA. 

Make sure to research the different precious metal companies to ensure you put your money in reliable hands.

We recommend Augusta Precious Metals for those investing over $50,000.

You also will have control over fees as most major brokers are now charging no fees for rolling over your 401k into a precious metal IRA. 

If you choose to use an automated advisor to manage your portfolio, there is a tendency to have a small percentage fee for each transaction, but that can usually be reduced. 

It is advised that you don’t take money from a retirement plan earlier than need be, but it is easier to get funds from an IRA than it is from an employer-sponsored plan.


With the advantages come the disadvantages of having a Gold IRA. 

Retirement savings plans try very hard to discourage their contributors from withdrawing money before you reach 59 ½.

The typical rate for doing this is a 10% penalty.

When it comes to 401(k) plans, these can be waived on early withdrawals that are taken out as early as 55 years old, but this exemption is not available for IRAs.

The biggest disadvantage is the trouble that can be caused by moving your funds from a 401(k) to a Gold IRA if you have not educated yourself on how to do so without getting penalized.

More Benefits of Rolling Over Your 401(k) Into a Gold or Precious Metals IRA:

What is a Gold IRA Rollover?

A Gold IRA rollover is moving a retirement account into an IRA that's backed by physical precious metals or Gold ETFs. You can take a look and the differences between gold mutual funds and ETFs here.

Can You Rollover a 401k into a Gold IRA?

Yes, you can roll over any retirement account in a Gold IRA. 

My 401(k) to Gold IRA rollover guide is explained here.

What are the 401(k) Contribution Limits for 2022?

The 2022 401(k) contribution limit is $20,500. If you’re 50+, however, you can add an additional $6,500.

How Long Does it Take for a 401k to Gold IRA Rollover?

A 401k rollover into a Gold IRA takes about 60 days to complete, and definitely no more than that. Should you take longer than 60 days, you will be subject to taxes on your money.

After you complete the rollover, your precious metals will be stored in a secure gold IRA depository

Making Your Final Decision- Is a Gold IRA Rollover Right for You?

For those who are considering making this financial move, there are many different companies that you can reach out to for further information and to help you with the process.

Typically, the custodian you assign to your account will have a list of who they have worked with in the past and who will be best to help you make this goal a reality.

If you haven’t found someone yet, consider going with Augusta Precious Metals.

They are a long-standing, highly respected company that has had decades of experience in the gold and precious metal trades.

They have helped people, from the most financially savvy to the beginning novice, to realize their goals of investment stability by purchasing real metals. The testimonials from their customers make them one of the most trustworthy resources.

In Conclusion

Should You Rollover Your Savings into a Gold IRA? 

Rolling over 401(k) funds into a precious metals IRA and investing in gold has become a popular move for people who are investing in their retirement.

Why? Because many everyday investors are learning what well-to-do investors have known for a long time: self-directed gold IRAs provide a level of control, diversification and investment potential that’s hard to find with other investment assets.

Precious metals through history have shown they have the potential to grow in value (or at least hold value) when other assets are losing value.

This provides the kind of portfolio balance that helps people protect their money.

This is the biggest advantage of rolling over your savings into a gold IRA.

Goldco Precious Metals

Goldco is the leading provider of Gold and other precious metal IRAs.

They offer exceptional customer service and diversification options for their clients.