- 04 Sep 2022
- Precious Metals
- Comments: 0
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Gold IRA companies fill a vital niche in the economy. Many people know that it's legal to keep precious metals in their retirement account, but they don't know how. There are tons of regulations and red tape, and nobody wants to get things wrong. So gold IRA companies help to educate customers and streamline the application process.
There are dozens of gold dealers that focus on IRAs in the United States. Two of the most popular are Augusta Precious Metals and Birch Gold Group. Both have a national reach and have earned celebrity endorsements. Both offer a wide range of IRA-approved precious metals products for reasonable prices.
But is one of these companies truly better than the other? We've broken down what each has to offer, along with what past customers have to say about their experiences. Here's everything that you should know when deciding which of these companies to reach out to.
Similarities in Services
There are multiple key similarities in how Augusta Precious Metals and Birch Gold Group are set up. Not only do both companies focus on the same services, but they also offer many of the same perks. Their policies give them both an edge over the competition, which is why both companies so frequently end up on top industry lists.
Both Birch Gold Group and Augusta Precious Metals focus on silver and gold IRAs. They sell IRA-eligible precious metals, and they help people roll over their existing retirement account funds in order to make purchases. Both also have products available to purchase with cash, but the main focus is on retirement accounts.
The process to get set up is also very similar. You'll either fill out an information and application form on the company website, or you'll call to speak to someone from the company. While you're on the phone, you can ask the representative questions and voice any concerns. Since both companies focus on education, the representative should be happy to help.
Someone from the company will take you through the paperwork to get set up. They will discuss custodian and storage options with you, as well as minimum investments and fees. If there are promotions that you qualify for, these will be discussed as well.
Within a few weeks, the account will be created and funded through a rollover. You also have the option of contributing funds from your personal savings instead. However, a rollover is the most common choice, because people usually have more to spend in their existing retirement savings.
Rollovers can be done totally free of charges and penalties, as long as the paperwork is filed correctly.
The process of making cash purchases is also similar between these two companies. You'll call and discuss the available inventory with someone from the company. Then you will be given a price quote, which is based on the current spot price of the metals. Neither company posts real time quotes on their website, so you need to contact them to find out the pricing.
Both companies have many client education resources on their websites. The idea is that every client should feel totally confident in their decisions. Even if you don't invest with this specific company, you should know enough to make the right investment decisions for your future. An educated client is empowered.
On that note, both companies also focus strongly on their community reputation. They don't want to sell you as much gold as possible and then move on. Instead, they try to foster lifetime customer relationships, in which you are able to get account updates and keep coming back in the future. Both companies are willing to buy back your metals when you decide that it's time to take distributions from your retirement account.
There are also some major differences between the two companies. Both of them tend to outperform the average competitor. But the differences will help you determine which is better for your own needs. In some respects, one company definitely comes out on top.
Augusta Precious Metals
While it's true that both companies offer client education, Augusta Precious Metals really goes above and beyond. They have client education resources that surpass not just Birch Gold, but all of the other competition as well. If you want to learn about the precious metals industry, there is no better way to do it than with Augusta Precious Metals.
Before you ever make a precious metals purchase, you can attend private webinars to learn about the industry. After you've made a purchase, you can get one-on-one sessions with the main minds running the company. Not only that, but you also get ongoing insights and answers from a team of Harvard trained economic analysts.
When you buy with Augusta Precious Metals, they foster a lifelong relationship. You have an account that you can always log into to find updates about your holdings. If you have questions or concerns, team members are always available. In addition to discussing your specific account, they can discuss current economic happenings and what those things might mean for the future.
Another special aspect of Augusta Precious Metals is how the company is structured. Rather than having each employee act as a jack of all trades, there are five specialized departments. Every employee within a department is an expert in their specific niche. The departments cover every part of the IRA process, from applying to purchasing metals to monitoring accounts.
This means that even if your usual representative doesn't know the answer to your question, they will be able to contact an expert who does. There's a huge wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips. And that's without even taking into account the aforementioned Harvard analysts and educational resources.
Augusta Precious Metals also has certain promotional offers available, though these vary depending on the time. You'll need to ask which offers are active. Some examples of offers include waiving account fees for several years, or offering back part of an investment in free silver.
Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group has been operating for nearly two decades, so it has seniority compared to Augusta. Over those two decades, it has slowly grown and gained a positive reputation throughout the industry. The company is sponsored by Ben Shapiro and serves clients all over the US.
Aside from the longevity, the biggest advantage with Birch Gold is that they have a more diverse inventory. In addition to the usual silver and gold product offerings, they also have palladium and platinum products. Palladium and platinum can be held in an IRA as long as they meet certain purity standards, but they're much pricier than gold or silver.
So people who are very interested in these expensive metals might not be satisfied with Augusta's inventory. But Augusta does still have a robust selection of IRA-approved metals to choose from, many of which are easy to liquidate when the time comes.
Fees for Setup and Maintenance
With any precious metals IRA, there are costs to be aware of. For example, you'll need to pay a storage depository fee, as well as a custodian fee. You are legally obligated to have a licensed custodian and licensed depository. Home storage is not an option, as a home safe doesn't comply with IRS security regulations.
Both Birch Gold Group and Augusta Precious Metals have a minimum threshold for investment. They both are designed with transparent, flat fee structures. You know exactly what you'll be paying in fees when you get started. They haven't hidden any fees inside the transactions or the fine print of the contracts.
Augusta Precious Metals
The fees to work with Augusta Precious Metals depend on what services you're using. In addition, certain investments might meet the criteria to have some fees waived. You can ask your representative about fee waiving. There have been isolated instances in the past in which Augusta has also covered the penalties from drawing from annuities and other accounts early.
There is a basic fee of $50 to set up your account. Then you'll need to pay annual fees for maintenance and storage. By working with one of Augusta's partnered custodians, you can access a flat fee structure that might not be available otherwise.
When working with one of Augusta's main custodian and depository options, you'll pay $80 annually to the custodian and $100 annually to the depository. The vault will have non-segregated storage, which is more cost-effective. Non-segregated vaults are still subject to intense audits and security protocols, so there's very little risk compared to segregated storage. Plus your holdings will be fully insured.
In order to use the IRA services provided by Augusta Precious Metals, you need to invest a minimum of $50,000 in silver and gold. There are different investment minimums to take advantage of promotions, but you'll generally need to buy at least $100,000 worth of silver and gold to have any of your fees waived.
Augusta Precious Metals sells bullion coins with a transparent 5% markup from the spot price. You can double-check the calculated price against the spot price to make sure you're getting a good deal. Comparatively, most precious metals dealers mark the price up anywhere from 15% to 90%.
It's also important to note that the salespeople at Augusta Precious Metals do not work on commission. This means that they are able to keep a genuine focus on what's right for the customer, as opposed to trying to make a "hard sell."
Whether you're having retirement funds sent to a depository or cash purchases shipped to your home, all transactions ship for free. They are also fully insured, so you can be compensated if the package becomes stolen or lost en route. While this is standard practice across most of the industry, it's good to note.
Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group actually has many similar fees and perks to Augusta Precious Metals. However, some of their services are accessible at lower prices.
You will pay a slightly higher price for setup, though. While the setup fee itself is just $50, you will also have to pay a $30 fee for the initial bank wire transfer. This is an expense that occurs only once, and then you never have to pay it again.
Like with Augusta, you can access reasonable flat fees if you use Birch Gold's partnered custodians and depositories. You'll pay $100 for your vault and $80 for maintenance on a yearly basis. This includes access to a custodian account, where you can view your holdings and determine their value over time.
The minimum investment for an IRA is just a fraction of Augusta's, coming in at $10,000. There is also a bonus available in which if you invest $50,000 right away, you will have your setup and first year of fees totally waived.
Birch Gold Group does not publish data about how it calculates prices. Customers have left reviews stating that the pricing is reasonable. However, it's important to do research before you buy, as with any company. Make sure that the quote you've been given is reasonable compared to the spot price of the product.
All of the shipping is totally free. Like with Augusta, Birch Gold insures each package for its full value. If anything happens while the package is in transit, you'll be compensated. Similarly, all depository vaults are fully insured against theft or disaster.
Both Augusta Precious Metals and Birch Gold Group have excellent industry reputations. They are known for being ethical companies with strong customer care policies. Both have received positive reviews from past consumers online.
Let's see exactly what the statistics are for each of these involved companies.
Augusta Precious Metals
On Consumer Affairs, Augusta has a 4.7 star average rating with 37 votes. On Facebook, the company shows 4.8 stars with 92 votes. Trustlink has even more reviews, with a 4.9 rating after over 280 people have left comments about their experiences. These statistics indicate that the customer experience with Augusta has been almost universally positive.
The same is true when you visit the Better Business Bureau page for Augusta. With over 100 reviews, the total rating is 4.96 out of 5 stars, showing that nearly everybody gave a perfect score. Perhaps more shockingly, there have been absolutely no complaints filed against this company over the past three years.
There is an alert on the page to let customers know that they can contact Augusta's customer service department directly if they have any issues. Apparently that avenue has been so successful that there has never been any negative feedback published on the BBB page. That's borderline impossible for a corporation of this size to manage.
The BBB itself gives Augusta an A+ rating and accreditation, which are the highest marks possible. Similarly, the Business Consumer Alliance gives Augusta top marks for ethics and transparency.
Augusta Precious Metals is endorsed by the NFL star Joe Montana. Apparently Joe worked with one of Augusta's owners during a company workshop. He hadn't even chosen to invest yet, but he was so pleased by what he'd learned that he decided he wanted to become the face of the company.
Birch Gold Group
It's a little harder to find information about the management behind Birch Gold Group. The most prominent information you'll find is that the company has been endorsed by Ben Shapiro. He has sponsored them several times in his talk shows and podcasts.
Birch Gold does have more overall online reviews than Augusta, possibly because of their lower minimum investment threshold. Consumer Affairs shows 4.8 stars with about 114 reviews, Trustpilot shows 4.8 stars with about 120 reviews, and the BBB shows 4.7 stars with more than 60 reviews.
Unlike Augusta, though, Birch Gold Group has dealt with some complaints. There have been 11 complaints filed over the last three years, 4 of which were in this past year. The company has responded to all of the complaints, though, and made an effort to make things right with all affected customers.
Because of this, Birch Gold also has an A+ and accreditation through the organization.
Both of these companies are reputable and offer valuable services. But we have to declare Augusta Precious Metals the winner. If you can afford the $50,000 minimum investment, the company has these advantages:
Overall, Augusta seems to have a smoother and more fine-tuned experience, especially after your initial purchase. But Birch Gold Group is still very good. If Augusta's minimum is inaccessible to you, Birch Gold's $10,000 minimum might be a more reasonable alternative.