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There are many national companies that offer precious metals IRA services. But if you're thinking about diversifying your retirement account into precious metals, it can be difficult to know who to choose. Many companies have excellent reviews, but what should you know about their services?
We've broken down the differences between two of the top competitors, American Hartford Gold and Augusta Precious Metals.
About Augusta Precious Metals
Augusta Precious Metals has been operating for a decade, having originally been founded back in 2012. The company is one of the most popular choices for people who want to invest in a precious metals IRA. They have a key focus on customer education and continuing service after you make a purchase.
In addition to being positively reviewed by past consumers, Augusta Precious Metals has the celebrity endorsement of Joe Montana. Joe Montana doesn't have a background in precious metals. But when he worked with the experts at Augusta, he became so passionate about the company that he wanted to reach out and bring other customers in.
When you make a purchase with Augusta, you'll have an account set up. This account will be yours for a lifetime. You can reach out at any time to contact the customer service team with questions, and you'll always have information about your holdings.
About American Hartford Gold
American Hartford Gold is slightly newer to the industry, having begun operations in 2015. But that's still enough time for them to have grown into a national presence. Thanks to a combination of advertising and referrals, they have brought in thousands of customers from all over the country.
American Hartford Gold has certain unique features that set it apart. For example, their price match guarantee allows customers to ensure that they're getting the best deal. They also don't have the same setup fees or investment minimums that many other companies have.
The company has been endorsed by Bill O'Reilly. The commentator and talk show host states that this is the only precious metals IRA company that he definitively trusts. Not only does he recommend them to his audience, but he also recommends them to his family and friends.
Both American Hartford Gold and Augusta Precious Metals have a strong focus on precious metals IRAs. An individual retirement account can hold precious metals, as long as you comply with the standards of purity set out by the IRS. Only certain coins from sovereign mints can be held in the account as well.
You also have the opportunity to make cash purchases from both companies. In these cases, it's possible to have the items delivered straight to your door. A variety of precious metals products are available. Both of the companies mainly focus on precious metals, rather than dipping into other alternative assets like cryptocurrency or real estate.
The process for opening an IRA is also similar with both companies. Since there aren't prices listed online, you'll have to call and talk to a salesperson. You'll discuss your budget and potential needs, and then you'll figure out what items you want to buy. You will be given a basic price estimate over the phone.
Neither company employs salespeople based on commission. Everybody is meant to get to know you and figure out your specific needs. The employees are able to answer questions about the industry and the available products. Ideally, customers will have access to enough knowledge to feel confident about their purchases in the future.
A representative will help you with opening your account, funding it with rollover funds from your current retirement account, and actually purchasing the metals. They'll set you up with a custodian and a depository of your choice, so your metals can be easily shipped to your new vault.
Augusta Precious Metals
Augusta Precious Metals focuses mainly on IRAs, but they have a variety of other services available as well. In addition, some services act as supplements to the basic IRA services. For example, they have strong focuses on continuing client education and account growth.
You can talk to a dedicated representative about opening an IRA. As long as you meet the company's minimum requirements, there's nothing stopping you. They have a relatively low markup on their products, even though they don't publish their prices on their website in real time the way some dealers do.
The company is outfitted with five different departments, each of which has a focus on just one portion of the IRA process. This means that the employees are all experts in their specific niche. There's a much wider breadth of knowledge overall thanks to this setup. You can ask any questions about the industry or your account, and you can be confident that someone will have an answer.
Cash purchases are available for people who want to buy precious metals without their retirement funds. You can either have these shipped to your home or to a depository vault. Depository vaults will have annual fees, but they're also much more secure than home storage.
The coins in Augusta's inventory have all been certified and graded by professional organizations like the NGC or PCGS. There's a guarantee that the products are high quality, and you'll know exactly what you're getting before you make the purchase.
One particularly unique aspect of Augusta Precious Metals is the amount of ongoing customer support after you make a purchase. Many precious metals dealers seek to cultivate a lifetime relationship, but Augusta goes the extra mile. They have continuing education opportunities, and you'll always have access to your account. The account will show you your holdings and allow you to contact specialists with any questions that you have.
You can even receive insights about current economic happenings from an analyst who trained at Harvard. And there are free webinars available, where you can work one-on-one with a company expert to become more versed in the precious metals industry. The continuing client education really goes above and beyond.
Unlike many of the competitors, Augusta is also available 24/7. There is a phone number and an online chat function that you can use whenever you want. No matter whether it's the middle of the night or the weekend, you'll be able to get in contact with an expert who can answer your questions right away.
American Hartford Gold
Like Augusta, American Hartford Gold helps customers to acquire and sell items like platinum, gold, and silver. The biggest company focus is on retirement accounts, but those aren't the only services provided. There are products like coins from sovereign mints in Canada, Austria, Australia, the US, Switzerland, and South Africa.
If you do decide to open an IRA using the American Hartford Gold services, there are several depository options available. The company most closely works with the Delaware Depository and Brinks Global Services. Though Brinks has hundreds of facilities all over the globe, American Hartford Gold usually uses the Utah and California locations.
There isn't a lot of information available through the company website regarding the custodians that they most commonly use. Your account custodian will be in charge of maintaining your account. It is necessary to have a licensed financial entity that can manage self-directed IRAs.
Like Augusta, American Hartford Gold has a buyback program. Once you decide that you want to cash out, you can sell your metals back without any hassle. It's also possible to have your metals shipped directly to you without liquidating them.
If you do choose to liquidate, there is a simple three step process. You will call and talk to a representative, who will give you a buyback quote based on the current spot price of the metal. Then you will follow the instructions to have your items shipped to the company. Once the metals arrive and are processed and verified, the company will send out a payment to you.
One of the more unique services provided by American Hartford Gold is price matching. There aren't many companies that will do this. If you can get a lower offer in writing from a different company, American Hartford Gold will match that offer. Just keep in mind that a few customers have mentioned needing extensive documentation in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
Minimums and Fees
When it comes to precious metals IRAs, there are some recurring costs to be aware of. You'll need to pay for storage in an accredited depository, as well as ongoing maintenance by your licensed custodian. Different depositories and custodians have different fee structures, so it's best to look these up before you finalize your choices.
Both Augusta Precious Metals and American Hartford Gold offer totally free shipping for your purchases. The items will be sent to the depository, where they are handled by your custodian. While en route, the package is fully insured. Once it arrives and is processed into your vault, the contents of the vault are also fully insured. This is standard practice with these types of accredited depositories.
Augusta Precious Metals
If you want to use the IRA services offered by Augusta Precious Metals, you have to meet certain minimum requirements. Your initial purchase must be an investment of at least $50,000. Not everyone has this much saved up to buy gold, even if they roll over funds from their existing retirement.
This is a fairly hefty minimum fee. While most of the competition also has a minimum threshold for investment, it's usually less than $50,000. But because Augusta only works with people who make large purchases, they can offer more dedicated customer service.
There is a flat $50 fee to set up your account. This includes your representative walking you through the application process, walking you through your rollover paperwork, and helping you finalize your initial purchase. It also gives you access to Augusta's stellar team of experts.
When you work with one of Augusta's partnered depositories, you can expect to pay $100 per year for your vault. The cost of maintenance through your custodian will typically be $75 to $80. You can ask your representative for more specifics about the custodian and their fee structuring.
While Augusta doesn't publish their prices online, they do state that they mark products up to 5% past their spot price. That's a fairly low markup for the industry. Every dealer has some markup from the spot price of metals, since that's how they turn a profit. You can double check the price quote that you're given against the spot price of metals to make sure that the formula is accurate.
American Hartford Gold
One of the major potential drawbacks of American Hartford Gold is that they haven't published a lot of information about their fees. As mentioned, there's very little info about the custodians that they work with. So it's hard to say what kind of maintenance and storage fees you might be paying.
On the other hand, American Hartford Gold does have two unique advantages over Augusta Precious Metals. One is that they don't charge any fee to set up your account. You don't have to worry about putting down a $50 setup fee. Another is that there is no account minimum to get started, making their services much more accessible. Many people don't have $50,000 to put into precious metals.
American Hartford Gold has other opportunities that they advertise. If your initial investment meets a certain threshold, they will be willing to waive your maintenance fees for a maximum of three years. You'll have to talk to your representative about whether you qualify for this.
Both of these companies have solid reputations in the precious metals industry. In addition to being positively regarded by experts, they have received good reviews from past customers.
Augusta Precious Metals
Augusta Precious Metals has consistently positive customer feedback across multiple third party channels. The company averages 4.8 to 4.9 stars with dozens to hundreds of reviews on sites like Trustpilot, Trustlink, and Consumer Affairs.
On the Better Business Bureau website, Augusta has an A+ rating and has been accredited. On top of this, the company doesn't have any complaints. That's extremely unusual for a firm of this size. Negative feedback is taken directly to the customer service department, and the representative takes care of it. There's never any need for disputes to be brought into the public eye.
Customers consistently praise the high quality of service. In addition, they praise the ongoing customer care after making a purchase. They say that the insights they receive are invaluable, and they feel prioritized and listened to by their representatives.
American Hartford Gold
American Hartford Gold's ratings are ideal. Consumer Affairs shows 4.9 stars with over 100 reviews, notably with no one having left any negative reviews at all. Trustpilot shows 4.9 stars with over 1,000 reviews. That's a pretty big sample size, so it reliably shows that the average customer is satisfied with this company.
American Hartford Gold is accredited and holds an A+ top rating with the BBB. However, there have been a handful of complaints over the past three years. Most of the complaints appear to be related to the company's advertising campaigns. A few customers have said that they felt misled about promises that were made regarding free coins or other products.
That said, American Hartford Gold has responded to each and every one of the complaints. They have gone above and beyond to resolve any of the negative feedback, with the vast majority of customers indicating that they're satisfied. Even when there are situations in which the company truly isn't obligated to help, they do their best to make things right.
Both of these companies are relatively new to the industry. Despite this, both companies have also gained a national following with dedicated customers. They both have a high quality reputation, and they have both received top marks from organizations that evaluate the ethics and customer service of businesses.
While each company has its advantages and disadvantages, our top pick overall has to be Augusta Precious Metals. The minimum investment might be a hurdle. But if you can clear it, Augusta has a level of customer service that can't be surpassed.
They have one-on-one sessions to teach you more about the industry. Even if you don't use those, you can get insights from Harvard analysts. Since there are several different departments, you can interact with experts in every step of the process. Your account representative will get to know you and follow your interests for the entire time that you have an account.
American Hartford Gold does have a good reputation, though. And there are certain promotional offers that may be available, such as having your fees waived. Since there isn't any minimum investment or setup cost, they're a good choice for people who have a smaller amount of funds available to put into precious metals.