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If you want to be extra adventurous with your retirement savings, then you should consider opening an Alto IRA.
As the name suggests, Alto IRA helps people save their IRA in alternative assets. Rather than standard stocks and bonds, you could use an Alto IRA to buy crypto, real estate, and dozens of other alternative investments.
While an Alto IRA may not fit everyone’s risk profile, it could be an attractive option for you if you want exposure to up-in-coming industries.
on Alto IRA’s website
Quick Summary: Alto IRA is a self-directed IRA provider offering its users a way to invest in alternative assets. The company has two main offerings, their Alto CryptoIRA®, and the Alto IRA where people can invest in almost anything from real estate to art.
What Is Alto IRA?
Alto IRA is a self-directed IRA provider that specializes in non-traditional assets. Founder and CEO Eric Satz created Alto IRA to help investors diversify their retirement portfolios.
Instead of focusing on stocks and ETFs, Alto IRA allows clients to transfer their IRA into various sectors, including cryptocurrency, crowdfunded real estate, and farmland. To do this, Alto IRA works with more than 75 accredited partners that specialize in different investment areas.
Alto IRA has been in business since 2018 and its main headquarters is in Nashville.
How Does Alto IRA Work?
Alto IRA serves as a bridge and custodian to more than 75 accredited third-party alternative investment companies. Thanks to Alto IRA’s dozens of professional partnerships, it’s easy for IRA holders to choose from a broad range of assets to invest in.
Basically, all you have to do is abide by your chosen provider’s minimum investment amount and associated fees. Alto IRA also charges fees to use its platform depending on which account you open.
Alto IRA makes it straightforward to sign up for an account. Just be sure you have your social security number, bank account info, and account number on your existing IRA. Alto IRA will ask for basic ID info such as your name, home address, phone number, and birthday.
Alto IRA also asks for a credit card to pay all fees associated with your account.
Any US resident over 18 could open an Alto IRA, but Hawaiian residents can’t apply for the Alto CryptoIRA. At this time, Hawaiians could only invest in crypto via a managed fund in the standard Alto IRA.
Opening an Account
To open an account on Alto IRA, you can click the “Sign Up” button at the top of the company’s official website. From here, you’ll have to enter your email address and create a password. After confirming your email, please type your name, home address, birthday, and social security number in the associated fields.
Next, you’ll have to choose between the Alto IRA and the Alto CryptoIRA. Unsurprisingly, the latter option is strictly for people who want to invest in cryptocurrencies. By contrast, the Alto IRA gives customers access to a broader array of alternative asset providers.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll have to choose from a traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA. Each of these IRAs have different max funding limits and tax options, so be sure to review your tax preferences before making a decision.
After you’ve picked the account that best fits your investment goals, your account should be active.
There are two ways you could fund your Alto IRA account. Firstly, you could transfer cash into it from your bank account. Alternatively, you could transfer or rollover funds from an existing IRA or qualified 401(k).
To send money from your bank, you’ll need to click “Add Bank Account” and enter the required info (e.g., your bank’s name and routing number).
Once your bank info is stored on Alto, you can enter the current tax year and how much you want to send. After you confirm the transaction, you will initiate an ACH transfer. The funds should appear in your Alto IRA account within five business days.
If you want to transfer funds from an existing IRA, you’ll need to provide Alto with the name of your custodian, the type of IRA you’re using, and your IRA’s account number. You could send your selected funds via check or wire.
Although Alto only allows customers to invest in traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, it will accept rollovers from Roth, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, 401(k)s, or 403(b)s.
To complete your wire transfer, you’ll need to upload one account statement from your current IRA provider. There’s also a Transfer of Assets Request you must sign on Alto IRA’s platform.
Alto IRA Features
The Alto IRA is Alto’s “standard non-standard” self-directed IRA offering. Unlike the Alto CryptoIRA, this account gives investors access to Alto’s dozens of partners in many alternative industries.
|Minimum Investment||Alto IRA (varies by partner) and Alto CryptoIRA ($0)|
|Account Fees||Starter Alto IRA: $10/mo or $100/yr, Pro Alto IRA: $25/mo or $250/yr and Alro CryptoIRA: $0 with 1% trade fee|
|Investment Fees||Partner Investment Fee: $10 or $50 for Pro and Starter, Private Investment Fee: $75 for Pro and $0 Starter|
|Other Fees||Account Closure: $50 and Outbound Wire Transfer: $25|
|Supported Cryptocurrencies||Over 150 cryptocurrencies and tokens including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Polkadot and Litecoin|
|Supported Alternative Assets||Securitized Collectibles, Crowdfunding, Crypto Fund, Farmland, Music Royalties, Private Credit, Private Equity, Real Estate, Startup, and Venture Capital.|
|Account Types||Traditional IRA, Roth IRA and SEP IRA|
|Promotions||Get 2 Months Free (**Alto IRA product)|
|Support||Phone (+1 877 673-1557) and Email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Live Chat|
Invest in Alternative Assets
Currently, an Alto IRA gives customers access to roughly 75 accredited partners, each of which offers out-of-the-ordinary investment opportunities. A few major investments on Alto’s platform include the following:
- Buy partial ownership of a Mark Rothko painting via Masterworks
- Invest in private real estate with EquityMultiple
- Use AcreTrader to buy shares of farmland
- Help fund a startup company with AngelList
- Put some money into fine wine & spirits collections via Vint
- Invest in cutting-edge healthcare businesses with BioVerge
Interestingly, you could invest in crypto assets through the Alto IRA account. However, you can’t invest in coins directly. Instead, you have to invest in managed crypto trusts like Grayscale.
If you choose a Starter Alto IRA plan, you can invest with any of Alto IRA’s partner companies. However, what if you have a unique investment idea that Alto’s partners can’t provide? Could you “Bring Your Own Deal” to an Alto IRA?
In short, you can bring your preferred investments into an Alto IRA, but you need to sign up for the more expensive Pro account. So, if you’re itching to use your IRA to fund private real estate or a friend’s startup, be prepared to pay extra for Pro benefits.
Alto CryptoIRA Features
If you’ve only got Bitcoin on your brain, then the Alto CryptoIRA may be an attractive offering. Unlike an Alto IRA, Alto’s CryptoIRA gives you the freedom to trade dozens of digital tokens thanks to Alto’s partnership with Coinbase.
To ensure user’s funds are safe, Alto claims to keep its crypto assets in cold storage and only holds enough liquidity for daily trading purposes. Plus, Alto CryptoIRA holders enjoy the high security and insurance standards offered by Coinbase.
Invest in Cryptocurrencies
An Alto CryptoIRA account-holder can trade roughly 135 cryptocurrencies directly on Alto’s platform. A few of the most popular tokens you could purchase include:
When you place a market order through Alto, the company will purchase a proportional amount of these tokens via Coinbase. Alto also takes on the responsibility of securing your digital assets and maintaining enough liquidity to trade whichever coins you choose.
✎ Editor’s Note
You don’t need a Coinbase account to use Alto CryptoIRA. Alto will buy, sell, and store your crypto assets on your behalf.
Alto IRA Pricing & Fees
Admittedly, it can take a while to grasp Alto IRA’s fee structure. How much you’ll pay depends on which IRA you choose and the partners you invest with.
If you choose an Alto IRA, you could opt for a Starter or Pro platform. Today’s rates are as follows:
|Trade Fee||1% of the order size|
|Outbound Wire Transfer||$25|
The Alto CryptoIRA doesn’t charge monthly fees, but you will pay a one percent trading fee on all transactions. Here are the fees you can expect when you choose the Alto CryptoIRA product:
|Account Fee||$25/mo or $250/year||$10/mo or $100/year|
|Partner Investment Fee||$10 or $50 (varies by partner)||$10 or $50 (varies by partner)|
|Private Investment Fee||$75||$0|
|Outbound Wire Transfer||$25||$25|
You must pay all of these fees with a credit card attached to your account.
Alto IRA Security & Insurance
Every Alto IRA account holder enjoys $250,000 in FDIC insurance. Also, the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department’s Financial Institutions Division regularly audits Alto IRA.
Alto CryptoIRA holders will enjoy many of Coinbase’s famous insurance protections. This includes a $320 million commercial crime policy and $3 million in cyber-crime insurance. For even greater assurance, Coinbase remains one of the world’s most respected institutional crypto custodians.
On the downside, Alto IRA cannot provide SIPC protection because it doesn’t offer stocks. Also, the company holds an Errors & Omissions insurance policy. With this policy, Alto IRA claims its services may not be “100 percent error-free,” nor could Alto IRA be held responsible for issues with its third-party providers.
Alto IRA Customer Support
The two best ways to contact Alto IRA are through email or phone. You could either submit a request via email@example.com or call (877) 673-1557. A member of Alto’s team should be available for an online chat from 8 AM to 5 PM CT every day.
If you’re still having trouble contacting Alto IRA’s staff, you could visit the website’s Help Center for FAQs and guides. Alto IRA also has accounts on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Alto IRA Pros
- Wide range of cryptos and alternative assets to choose from
- Partnered with many prominent companies like Coinbase, EquityZen, and AcreTrader
- Offers traditional, Roth, and SEP IRA options
- Clean and easy-to-navigate interface
- No need to worry about crypto taxes or custody
Alto IRA Cons
- Investors have to trust Alto IRA is holding their crypto and private keys
- Some alternative assets (e.g., real estate) aren’t as liquid as stocks or ETFs
- Fee structure is complicated
- You can’t open a Solo 401(k) account within Alto IRA.
- The volatility of alternative investments isn’t ideal for conservative investors
Alto IRA Alternatives
Alternative IRAs are becoming increasingly trendy in today’s marketplace. Although Alto IRA is a well-known self-directed IRA provider, other companies now offer unique retirement accounts that may better fit your goals.
First launched in 2015, Bitcoin IRA is the oldest self-directed IRA platform to allow customers to put retirement money into cryptocurrencies. Currently, you could invest in about 60 crypto assets thanks to Bitcoin IRA’s partnership with crypto custodian BitGo.
Not only does BitGo facilitate your crypto transactions, it stores and insures your assets. In fact, Bitcoin IRA boasts $700 million in crypto custody service.
As a bonus, Bitcoin IRA holders could invest their Roth IRA, traditional IRA, or 401(k) into gold. People who use Bitcoin IRA can also earn interest on their Bitcoin, Ethereum, or US dollars. Read our full Bitcoin IRA review to learn more.
Founded in 2018, Rocket Dollar is a relatively new alternative IRA platform based in Texas. Many of the third-party investment opportunities offered on Rocket Dollar are similar to Alto IRA, including real estate, startup companies, and crypto. Rocket Dollar also provides clients the ability to “Bring Their Own Deal” to their IRA account.
A few big-name partners now listed with Rocket Dollar include:
Also like Alto IRA, Rocket Dollar has two monthly subscription programs. However, you will have to pay a startup fee whether you go with Rocket Dollar’s “Core” or “Gold” option.
In addition to traditional, SEP, and Roth IRAs, Rocket Dollar allows clients to create Solo 401(k)s on its platform.
|Fees||Starter Alto IRA: $10/mo or $100/yr, Pro Alto IRA: $25/mo or $250/yr and Alro CryptoIRA: $0 with 1% trade fee||Platform fees: 1.5% to 12.5% and Transaction Fees: 1% (sells) / 5% (buys)||Rocket Dollar Silver: $360 Setup Fee, then $15/mo and Rocket Dollar Gold: $600 Setup Fee, then $30/mo|
|Account Minimum||Alto IRA (varies by partner) and Alto CryptoIRA ($0)||$3,000||$0|
|Promotion||Get 2 Months Free (**Alto IRA product)||None||None|
|Cryptocurrencies Offered||Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Algorand (ALGO), Cardano (ADA), Zcash (ZEC) and more||Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), Zcash (ZEC)||Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and others available through an eligible exchange|
Who Is Alto IRA For?
Self-directed IRA platforms like Alto are best for non-risk-averse investors with a long time horizon. Alternative assets like crypto and startup companies may offer a fantastic return, but they tend to be riskier than bonds, stocks, or an S&P 500 index. Also, although Alto IRA has a high record for security, self-directed IRAs always carry less protection compared with SIPC-protected IRAs.
You should enjoy playing an active role in your IRA investing if you choose to open an Alto IRA account. As long as you have a clear investment thesis and a high-risk tolerance, an Alto IRA could help diversify your retirement portfolio.
Alto IRA FAQs
Are you still unsure whether Alto IRA is right for you? Check out the FAQs below to learn more about this company’s offerings.
Is Alto IRA Safe?
Platforms like Alto IRA are inherently riskier than SIPC-insured IRAs. Not only do self-directed IRAs have fewer protections, but the assets they manage tend to be more volatile than bonds or ETFs.
However, Alto IRA has many protections to make clients feel more secure. For instance, every account has FDIC insurance of up to $250,000 and Alto IRA frequently undergoes audits from the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department.
As for Alto’s CryptoIRA program, customers have access to Coinbase’s high-quality crypto custody and insurance policies.
So, although Alto IRA may be “riskier” than traditional IRAs, it has many security measures in place to make customers feel at ease.
Is Alto IRA Insured?
Alto IRA ensures your money is kept in FDIC-insured accounts of up to $250,000 per client. However, Alto IRAs don’t qualify for SIPC protection.
Although the US government doesn’t back cryptocurrencies, Coinbase offers $320 million in commercial crime insurance and another $3 million in cybercrime insurance.
Is My Crypto Safe with Alto IRA?
Alto IRA’s partner Coinbase has a strong reputation for being one of the most secure and compliant crypto exchanges. Not only that, Coinbase has become a significant crypto custodian for institutional clients. While Coinbase was hacked once in 2021, it repaid affected clients with its crypto-insurance fund.
According to Alto IRA, most of your crypto is stored in hardware devices to prevent a cyber attack. Coinbase also insures any digital assets Alto purchases for millions of dollars.
Which Cryptocurrencies Does Alto IRA Support?
Clients could trade any crypto available on Coinbase with an Alto CryptoIRA account. Currently, Coinbase has roughly 135 digital assets on its exchange.
A few of the more popular digital tokens you could invest in include:
Do I Need to Be an Accredited Investor to Open an Alto IRA Account?
You don’t need to be an accredited investor to hold an Alto IRA. However, a few of Alto’s partners are more selective than others. Some third-party providers on Alto only allow accredited investors into their funds.
Please read through special restrictions associated with Alto IRA’s partners before choosing who to invest with.
How Quickly Can I Open an Account with Alto IRA?
If you’re sending a cash contribution from your bank, it should take seven business days to appear in your Alto IRA account. For those sending an IRA transfer or rollover, it could take five to 10 working days via wire or 10 to 20 working days for a check.
Please remember the IRS only lets investors fund a new IRA account seven days after creating it.
Does Alto IRA Provide Custodial Support?
Alto IRA is primarily involved in helping clients transfer their IRA funds into accredited third-party accounts. It’s up to each partner company to secure their respective assets. The Alto team also claims to keep users’ funds in FDIC-insured accounts of up to $250,000.
In addition to connecting clients with alternative asset providers, Alto IRA keeps a record of all your investments and files 5498 tax forms on your behalf.
Is There a Minimum Investment Amount with Alto IRA?
You could put as little as you want into an Alto IRA account. However, some of Alto’s partners have specific minimum requirements. Please double-check the minimum amount associated with each company working with Alto before choosing who to invest with.
In A Nutsehll
- Minimum Investment: Alto IRA (varies by partner) and Alto CryptoIRA ($0)
- Account Fee: Starter Alto IRA: $10/mo or $100/yr, Pro Alto IRA: $25/mo or $250/yr and Alro CryptoIRA: $0 with 1% trade fee
- Promotions: Get 2 Months Free (*Alto IRA product)
Alto IRA makes investing “outside of the box” easier for its clients. If you don’t like the limited options in a standard IRA portfolio, then Alto IRA could help you create a more individualized portfolio. From spirits and startups to crypto and crowdfunding, there are many creative ways you could use Alto IRA’s user-friendly platform.
However, self-directed IRAs may not be an excellent fit for everyone’s investment style. Alto IRA investors should be prepared for extra volatility and reduced liquidity. Also, although Alto IRA has many protections, it doesn’t come with a SIPC guarantee.
Customers should build a clear IRA investment thesis before opening an account on Alto IRA. Please factor in the extra risks and fees for using Alto’s platform into your model. As long as you have a clear investment goal, this website could help diversify your retirement portfolio.
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Eric Esposito is a freelance writer, editor, and cryptocurrency enthusiast. Although it took him a few years to grasp the Bitcoin revolution, Eric has become a crypto convert and long-term “hodler.” Besides crypto investing, Eric is interested in helping others understand how to safely stack sats with passive income opportunities.