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Although stocks, bonds, and ETFs remain the “standard” investments for retirement accounts, people have plenty of alternative options nowadays. Thanks to self-directed IRAs, investors can put their retirement savings into non-traditional assets such as real estate, startup companies, and cryptocurrencies.
However, for conservative investors, precious metals IRAs are usually the most attractive product. As the name suggests, these alternative IRAs help people put their retirement money into scarce commodities like gold and silver.
Birch Gold Group is one of the biggest names in America’s precious metals IRA market. For decades, this Iowa-based company has been helping Americans diversify their retirement accounts with gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.
However, just because Birch Gold Group has a long history doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. Learn more about what Birch Gold Group offers before setting up a precious metals IRA account.
Bottom Line: Birch Gold Group is a precious metals IRA provider based in Iowa, U.S. The company has been around since 2003 and offers an array of products including gold, silver platinum, and palladium.
What is Birch Gold Group?
Birch Gold Group is a precious metals vendor and self-directed IRA provider headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Although not listed on Birch Gold Group’s website, most reports suggest the Iraqi-American businessman Laith Alsarraf created this company in 2003. Before opening Birch Gold Group, Alsarraf co-founded Adult Check, Inc., which offered age verification services for adult entertainment websites.
Since its founding, Birch Gold Group has helped thousands of customers and received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Prominent politicians and media personalities like Ben Shapiro and Ron Paul also endorse Birch Gold Group.
How Does Birch Gold Group Work?
Birch Gold Group offers customers access to tangible precious metals through direct sale or a self-directed IRA. If people want to buy precious metals directly from Birch Gold Group, they can call the company and submit an order for delivery. For those more interested in a precious metals IRA, Birch Gold Group can help clients rollover a pre-existing retirement fund and use this money to buy IRS-approved gold, silver, platinum, or palladium. Once a person buys precious metals with their self-directed IRA, Birch Gold Group will send these metals to a partner depository such as Delaware Depository or Brinks International.
When IRA investors reach retirement age, they can ask Birch Gold Group to ship them their precious metals or request a buyback to receive the cash value of their metals. All of the same tax benefits, contribution limits, and penalties in standard IRAs apply to Birch Gold Group’s IRA.
To open an IRA account on Birch Gold Group, you must deposit at least $10,000.
Any of the following retirement accounts qualify for a Birch Gold Group IRA:
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- SEP IRA
- SIMPLE IRA
Birch Gold Group also claims it will accept “more” retirement accounts not listed above. So, if you have a savings plan not included on this list, there’s still a chance Birch Gold Group’s staff will accommodate you.
To get started opening your Birch Gold Group IRA, you need at least $10,000 in an approved retirement account. However, even if you don’t meet these requirements, you can request more details from Birch Gold Group via phone, email, or from a free print information kit. The more you learn about Birch Gold Group’s offerings, the easier you’ll understand the setup process.
Opening an Account
Opening a self-directed IRA for the first time may seem challenging, but Birch Gold Group has a strong reputation for its customer service department. From start to finish, you’ll work with a Birch Gold Group agent who can address your concerns. Birch Gold Group also offers free educational content to help new customers learn what precious metals IRAs are, how they work, and how to get started.
- Step 1 – Order a Free Precious Metals Investment Info Kit: Even if you’re sure you want a precious metals IRA, you shouldn’t rush into opening a Birch Gold Group account. It’s always best to arm yourself with knowledge before making major investment decisions. To ensure you fully understand what a precious metals IRA is, Birch Gold Group offers a free informational booklet if you submit your name, address, and phone number. You can also read through Birch Gold Group’s extensive “Education” tab for more details on how Birch Gold Group works.
- Step 2 – Call a Birch Gold Group IRA Specialist: After absorbing all the info in Birch Gold Group’s info packet, it’s time to call the company directly with your questions. You can speak with a Birch Gold Group agent anytime at (800) 355-2116 on weekdays between 6:00 AM – 5:30 PM PST. Your Birch Gold Group specialist will take the time to understand your situation and figure out which IRA plan works best for you.
- Step 3 – Open Your Precious Metals IRA Account: If you’re certain you want a Birch Gold Group IRA, call (800) 355-2116 during working hours to start the setup process. A Birch Gold Group employee will let you know all the paperwork you need to submit to rollover your pre-existing IRA. You’ll also need to contact your current IRA provider to verify the rollover process. Within a few days or weeks, you should have money in your new Birch Gold Group IRA account.
- Step 4 – Purchase Precious Metals: Once the IRA rollover clears into Birch Gold Group, you can buy any IRS-approved precious metals and add them to your self-directed IRA portfolio. Birch Gold Group offers many gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products. Investors can choose their preferred storage location from one of Birch Gold Group’s partner depositories and arrange a future visit.
- Step 5 – Monitor How Your Investment Performs: You can’t redeem the precious metals in your Birch Gold Group IRA without penalties until you reach the legal retirement age (i.e., 59 ½). Until then, you can keep tabs on your portfolio’s total value by contacting Birch Gold Group and comparing your purchase prices with the current value of your precious metals.
Birch Gold Group Features
Birch Gold Group’s mission is to help Americans access precious metals for their personal portfolio or retirement savings. All of the features on Birch Gold Group’s website are designed to make the precious metals buying experience as straightforward as possible.
|Fees||$50 (setup fee), $100/year (custodian fee), $125/year (storage fee) *other fees may apply|
|Account Types||Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457 and TSP|
|Offerings||Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium|
|Better Business Bureau||A+ Rating|
|Business Consumer Alliance||AAA Rating|
|Promotion||Fees waived for the 1st year (*on Qualifying Purchases)|
|Physical Precious Metals Ownership|
|Free Info Kit|
|Support||Contact Form, Email: [email protected], and Telephone: (800) 355-2116|
Precious Metals IRAs
Birch Gold Group offers IRS-approved self-directed IRAs focusing on the precious metals market. If clients have $10,000 in a compatible IRA account, they can rollover their funds into a Birch Gold Group account. When the money enters your Birch Gold Group IRA, you’re free to purchase IRS-approved coins and bullion within your IRA’s max yearly contribution limit. Birch Gold Group will send these precious metals to a secured depository. Once you reach retirement age, you can contact Birch Gold Group to receive your physical metals or request a buyback to get a check in the mail.
Currently, Birch Gold Group offers the four following precious metals in its self-directed IRA program:
Since “gold” is in Birch Gold Group’s name, it makes sense that people with a precious metals IRA can add gold coins and bullion to their accounts. According to the IRS, IRA-worthy gold products must meet a minimum fineness score of 0.995. Birch Gold Group ensures the gold coins and bullion available for its IRA account meet this threshold.
For those more interested in silver investing, Birch Gold Group offers access to plenty of IRA-approved silver coins and bullion. Unlike gold, the IRS requires silver products to meet a fineness score of at least 0.999 to be in a self-directed IRA.
Although platinum is most often associated with its industrial uses, it’s a viable investment option in Birch Gold Group’s IRA. Birch Gold Group says you can choose from a wide assortment of platinum coins, bars, and bullion when putting together your IRA portfolio. Just keep in mind that IRS-approved platinum must meet a high purity threshold of 0.9995.
Similar to platinum, IRS-approved palladium bars must have a fineness level of 0.9995. Although the palladium offerings on Birch Gold Group are less extensive than its gold and silver catalogs, investors can add palladium to their accounts if they want to.
Direct Purchase of Precious Metals
If you don’t want to use your IRA to buy precious metals, but you still want to add them to your account, Birch Gold Group offers direct shipment of various coins, bullion, and bars. Similar to the Birch Gold Group’s IRA, you can choose from gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products. Just keep in mind you need to purchase at least $10,000 worth of precious metals on Birch Gold Group for each order. To submit your precious metals order through Birch Gold Group, you must speak with a customer care agent at (800) 355-2116.
To give you a sense of the various metals on Birch Gold Group, here are a few current offerings:
- American Buffalo Gold Coin
- American Gold Eagle Gold Coin
- Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin
- Valcambi CombiBars
- Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coin
- Morgan Silver Dollar
- Platinum bars & rounds
- American Platinum Eagle Coin
- Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf Coin
The IRS has strict rules against holding precious metals in an IRA account at home. So, to comply with the IRS’s standards, Birch Gold Group ships every IRA holder’s precious metals to secure depositories throughout the USA. According to Birch Gold Group’s site, you can choose from one of four premium depositories:
- Delaware Depository
- Brink’s International
- Texas Precious Metals Depository
- International Depository Services
Although you can’t claim the precious metals in these depositories till you reach retirement age, you can schedule an appointment to inspect your gold, silver, platinum, or palladium. All you have to do is call Birch Gold Group’s toll-free number to schedule a visit. You can also request to store your metals in the depository closest to your house.
Precious Metals Buyback Program
Birch Gold Group doesn’t advertise a legally-binding “buyback guarantee,” so there’s a chance they won’t offer cash if you want to liquidate your metals. However, most reviews suggest Birch Gold Group’s customer care team is very accommodating to customers. Although Birch Gold Group doesn’t have to re-purchase your precious metals, anecdotal reports suggest there’s a good chance they will honor your request.
Birch Gold Group has an exhaustive “Education” tab on its main website. Here, you’ll find guides to precious metal investing, self-directed IRAs, and Birch Gold Group’s services. You can also use this tab to read Birch Gold Group’s latest blog articles on investing topics, news, and interviews.
Birch Gold Group Fees
There aren’t any penalties for rolling over a pre-existing IRA onto Birch Gold Group’s platform. However, you will have to pay a few setup and annual charges to use this service.
Birch Gold Group charges a one-time account setup fee of $50.
Annual IRA Fees
With a Birch Gold Group IRA, there’s an annual IRA management fee of $100.
On top of the annual management fee, you’ll need to pay an extra $125 per year for storage fees.
The only other fee listed on Birch Gold Group’s website is a one-time $30 wire transfer fee. However, keep in mind that Birch Gold Group offers new clients many deals throughout the year. For instance, if you deposit $50,000 into your IRA account, Birch Gold Group waives your annual fees. Also, Birch Gold Group says clients aren’t charged extra as they purchase more metals. The flat annual fees apply to every IRA account holder, no matter how many contributions they make per year.
Birch Gold Group Security
Birch Gold Group only works with some of the most highly-rated IRS-approved custodians and depositories. For custodians, Birch Gold Group partners with Equity Trust Company and STRATA Trust Company. People with a Birch Gold Group IRA can also choose from one of the following depositories:
- Delaware Depository
- Brink’s International
- Texas Precious Metals Depository
- International Depository Services
According to Birch Gold Group’s website, IRA holders enjoy all of the insurance protections associated with each custodian’s terms and conditions. For instance, Birch Gold Group mentions people who use Delaware Depository have insurance of up to $1 billion on their account.
Birch Gold Group Customer Support
Birch Gold Group welcomes phone calls every Monday through Friday between 6 AM and 5:30 PM PST at (800) 355-2116. If you sign up for a precious metals IRA, you can use this toll-free number to review your portfolio, make purchases, or withdraw your investments. You can also reach out to Birch Gold Group via email at the address [email protected].
Birch Gold Group User Experience
Overall, Birch Gold Group has positive reviews on most customer review portals. The average star rating for Birch Gold Group on sites such as Trustpilot, Google Reviews, TrustLink, and ConsumerAffairs is between 4.5 – 5 stars. Birch Gold Group also has an A+ accreditation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There are also few customer complaints on the BBB’s website, with only eight posted issues in the past three years, and Birch Gold Group responded to all of these issues. Birch Gold Group has a AAA rating with the Business Consumer Alliance (BCA).
To get a sense of the good & bad people are saying about Birch Gold Group, here are a few sample reviews:
“Ben Shapiro has been talking about these guys for as long as I can remember. With everything that has been happening in the world over the past couple of months, I decided that I needed to take some action. Thankfully, they lived up to the expectations that Shapiro had set. They were efficient and exceedingly helpful. Thank you.” Bob Francis (Trustpilot)
“Birch Gold talks a good game but I would never recommend them for purchasing gold or anything for that matter. The price they quoted me for proof American Gold eagles was $1,747.50 (spot at $1,445) at the same time another dealer quoted $1,661, and a third dealer $1,555.94. These prices were all quoted at the same time. Now it is surely clear why my summary is “Rip Off Artists.” I’m only glad I shopped around and did not purchase with Birch.” Sharon of Winston Salem, NC (ConsumerAffairs)
“Everyone I worked with at Birch Gold was helpful and knowledgeable. They answered my questions and explained every step of the IRA transfer process as we went. My only complaint is that I didn’t receive much follow-up while we were waiting for my prior financial institution to process the request and transfer the funds.” Charley Voos (Google Reviews)
“It took nearly 2 months for my old 401k to get the funds moved over to my IRA, but the guys at Birch Gold Group stuck with me through it all. I want to say THANK YOU to the whole team, including Jeremy, Nick and Susan. I can’t imagine having a better group of people to help me through this ordeal and come out on the other end with gold!!” Mike J (TrustLink)
Birch Gold Group Pros Explained
- Low minimum deposit: Compared with competing precious metals providers, Birch Gold Group has a competitive minimum deposit of $10,000. Investors who want to invest a smaller portion of their IRA in precious metals enjoy a comparatively lower deposit amount on Birch Gold Group.
- Long history in the industry: Birch Gold Group began business in 2003, giving it one of the longest reputations in the precious metals market. This brand’s accreditations and celebrity support also help people feel more comfortable about its reputation.
- High security and customer service standards: Birch Gold Group works with multiple IRS-approved depositories and custodians to give IRA holders peace of mind. This company also makes it easy to contact staff members via its toll-free number and email.
- Accepts multiple retirement plans: Birch Gold Group accepts at least eight major retirement plans for rollover, including Roth IRAs, Traditional IRAs, and 401(k)s. Even if you don’t have an IRA on Birch Gold Group’s official list, you can contact the team to discuss whether opening a self-directed IRA is possible.
- Choice of four metals: Although Birch Gold Group has “gold” in its name, you aren’t limited to gold coins and bullion. When setting up your IRA account, you can choose from dozens of IRS-approved gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products.
Birch Gold Group Cons Explained
- No buyback guarantee: Birch Gold Group doesn’t promise it will buy back any of the precious metals you order through its platform. You can call Birch Gold Group to request a buyback, but please know they don’t promise to re-purchase your coins, bullion, or bars.
- Controversial founder: Before founding Birch Gold Group, Laith Alsarraf was the co-founder of the company Adult Check, Inc., which has a connection to the adult entertainment industry. This doesn’t mean Alsarraf is a criminal or Birch Gold Group is a bad company, but some conservative investors aren’t enthused about this association. Also, compared with many competing companies, Birch Gold Group isn’t as transparent about its founding or its leadership.
- No simple way to track portfolio performance: Birch Gold Group has a few price feeds for precious metals on its website, but there’s no simple way to monitor the value of your precious metal holdings. You’ll need to keep records of your precious metal purchases and compare them with the current market price.
Birch Gold Group Alternatives
Although Birch Gold Group is one of the oldest precious metals dealers in the USA, it’s far from the only option. New investors should compare Birch Gold Group’s offerings with its top competitors to figure out which company is the best fit.
Birch Gold Group vs. Goldco
Launched three years after Birch Gold Group, Goldco is another established name in America’s precious metals sector. Clients who open a Goldco Precious Metals IRA need at least $25,000 in their account to start purchasing gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Unlike Birch Gold Group, Goldco offers a buyback guarantee for all its products. Goldco also provides clients with a responsive customer care team via live chat, phone, and email. Read our full Golco review to learn more.
Birch Gold Group vs. Augusta Precious Metals
Headquartered in Beverly Hills, Augusta Precious Metals has offered Americans Precious Metals IRAs since 2012. A major distinction between Augusta Precious Metals and other companies is its minimum deposit of $50,000. Also, customers can only access gold and silver products on Augusta Precious Metals’ website. On the positive side, Augusta Precious Metals offers a unique “Account Lifetime Support” feature, so investors will always have access to a personal precious metals expert. Read our full Augusta Precious Metals review to learn more.
|Annual Fees||$200 (waived for the first year for account over $50K)||$200 (waived for the first year)||Varies depending on custodian|
|Information Kit||Physical Kit||Physical Kit|
|Verdict||Best For Low Minimum Purchase||Best For Transparency||Best For Customer Service|
Who Is Birch Gold Group Best For?
Birch Gold Group is ideal for conservative investors only interested in putting a moderate amount of retirement money into precious metals. The $10,000 minimum for Birch Gold Group’s IRA is lower than many competing brands, which is good news for people who don’t want to put the bulk of their retirement funds into precious metals. A Birch Gold Group account allows people to diversify their holdings with precious metals without losing out on potential gains in more standard assets like stocks, bonds, and ETFs.
Birch Gold Group FAQs
If you’re still unsure whether Birch Gold Group is the best partner for your retirement goals, take a few minutes to review the following FAQs.
Who Owns Birch Gold Group?
Is Birch Gold Group Trustworthy?
Birch Gold Group has an A+ rating with the BBB, and most reviews on sites like Google Reviews, TrustPilot, and ConsumerAffairs are positive. Even on the formal complaints filed on the BBB’s website, Birch Gold Group has a 100% response rate. Also, many celebrities and politicians like Ben Shapiro publicly endorse Birch Gold Group’s offerings.
Do I Own The Physical Precious Metals In A Birch Gold Group IRA Account?
Even though you can’t claim the precious metals in your Birch Gold Group IRA till retirement, they are under your control. If you wanted to, you could request your gold and silver before turning 59 ½, but you would pay steep penalties to the IRS.
What Sets Birch Gold Group Apart From Its Competitors?
Two features that set Birch Gold Group apart from competitors are its longevity and low minimum deposit. Few competing precious metals IRA vendors have been around since 2003, and only a few offer a minimum IRA account of $10,000.
Can I See How My Investment Is Performing With Birch Gold Group?
Birch Gold Group doesn’t have a special online portal where you can track your investments over time. Instead, you’ll only find a live feed of precious metals prices on Birch Gold Group’s website. You’ll need to contact Birch Gold Group’s team via phone or email to find out how your portfolio is performing. You may also want to write the purchase prices for the precious metals in an Excel file to keep track of how much your portfolio is worth.
Where Does Birch Gold Group Store My Precious Metals?
Birch Gold Group has partnerships with the following four depositories:
● Delaware Depository
● Brink’s International
● Texas Precious Metals Depository
● International Depository Services
When you set up a precious metals IRA, you can store your metals with any of the above companies in facilities throughout the USA. You can also request to visit your chosen facility by scheduling an appointment through your Birch Gold Group agent.
Do Contributions On A Birch Gold Group Account Work The Same As A Regular IRA Account?
All of the contribution limits on a Birch Gold Group IRA work the same as your standard IRA account. For instance, you can only make up to $6,500 in contributions on a Traditional IRA until you reach 50.
What Are The Tax Advantages Of A Birch Gold Group IRA?
Birch Gold Group IRAs have all the tax benefits you get on a standard IRA. For instance, people with a Roth IRA don’t pay taxes on withdrawals after retirement age, while those with a Traditional IRA get tax deductions when making contributions.
How Can I Make A Withdrawal From My Birch Gold Group IRA?
To make a withdrawal from Birch Gold Group, you can call an employee at (800) 355-2116 during weekday business hours to place a request. Birch Gold Group doesn’t offer a buyback guarantee, but you can ask to liquidate your position and receive a check in the mail. IRA holders can also request Birch Gold Group to ship their physical precious metals.
How Does Birch Gold Group Make Money?
Birch Gold Group makes most of its money by charging a spread on the precious metals it sells. This “spread” is slightly above the market price for the gold, silver, platinum, or palladium on Birch Gold Group’s website, and it’s a common practice in all financial markets.
Where Is Birch Gold Group’s Headquarters?
Birch Gold Group’s headquarters is as follows:
309 Court Ave, Suite 809
Des Moines, IA 50309
Do I Pay The Shipping On My Birch Gold Group IRA?
Birch Gold Group doesn’t list shipping charges in its list of fees. However, customers should double-check to see if Birch Gold Group changes its shipping policy before opening an account. Always speak with a Birch Gold Group agent for the latest fee information.
How Do I Rollover Funds From Another Account Into A Birch Gold Group IRA?
To rollover funds from another IRA into Birch Gold Group, you must ensure you have a compatible account type and at least $10,000. If you meet these qualifications, you can call a Birch Gold Group employee at (800) 355-2116 to figure out the paperwork you need to submit to make this transition. After sending in all the essential paperwork, Birch Gold Group should receive your funds for trading within a few days or weeks.
In A Nutshell
- Key Highlight: Robust security features
- Minimum Investment: $10,000
- Metals Available: Gold and silver bullion and coins, palladium, and platinum
- Ratings: 4.9/5.0 over 130 reviews (TrustLink); 4.7/5.0 over 70 reviews (BBB) and A+ rating with BBB
Despite the rise of many competing companies, Birch Gold Group remains one of the USA’s most talked-about precious metals vendors. If you’re curious about investing some of your retirement portfolio in precious metals, there’s a chance Birch Gold Group may have what you’re looking for. Compare all of the features Birch Gold Group has to offer versus the competition to see if it meets your long-term goals.
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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.