How to invest in gold in the US

How to invest in gold in the US

Robert McDougall 

January 9, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Investing in gold can be a hedge against inflation, and one way to do this is by investing in a gold IRA.
  • In a gold IRA, you transfer some of your existing 401(k) or IRA into a Gold IRA, and begin investing in precious metals with those funds.
  • Owning physical gold is also an option, and it gives investors the security of knowing that they possess their assets directly.
  • Pros of investing in gold include its potential as a hedge against inflation, its diversification benefits, and its security during recessions and geopolitical upheaval, while cons include the inability to physically possess your gold and the difficulty of transporting it.

Most of the pieces I write take on various methods for climbing out of debt with alternative investments. Crypto has been a mainstay for the modern investor for years, and there’s another that it might be time for you to look into: gold.

There are several ways to look into investing in gold, and I’ll focus on the two main ones. The first is Gold retirement accounts, and the second is the purchase of physical gold to hold in your possession.

Gold as a Retirement Account

One of the best ways to think of investing in gold is to consider that it is an excellent hedge against inflation. No less than Forbes magazine has touted gold and other precious metals as a historically strong wall against inflation in the money markets.

One of the best ways to capitalize on that is to make gold a part of your individual retirement account, or IRA. 

The way it works is pretty simple. You transfer some of your existing 401(k) or IRA into a Gold IRA, and begin investing in precious metals with those funds. The gold is held by a custodian that your Gold IRA manager will help you find.

Once you’re ready to start taking withdrawals on your IRA, you contact your manager and they begin the process of divesting you of the physical gold, through your custodian, and transferring the cash back to you.

Why Gold IRAs Work

Like I mentioned earlier, gold and other precious metals often retain their value against the dollar very well. That means that an ounce of gold in ten years is worth more than an ounce of gold now–even accounting for rising prices of everything else.

In a typical IRA, your funds are used to invest in conventional stocks and bonds. But the IRS keeps you from investing in actual gold. With a precious metals IRA, you can work around that.

I found an amazing list of the best Gold IRA companies, and I’ve looked over all of them. If you're interested in getting invested in a precious metals IRA, look no further than those five companies to get started.

Pros and Cons

There are ups and downs to any investment option, and investing in a Gold IRA is no different. Here are the biggest pluses and minuses.

  • Hedge against inflation
  • Gold can sometimes perform better than traditional stocks
  • Provides security during recessions
  • Resistant to geo-political upheaval
  • Diversifies your portfolio
  • Some companies have an investment minimum
  • You cannot physically possess your gold

If you’d like to get started on a Gold IRA, there’s another great article with step-by-step guidance on how to begin.

Owning Physical Gold

Some investors aren’t interested in owning something that someone else is physically storing. This, for some, sounds like commodities trading, and they want the peace of mind that comes from possessing their assets directly.

If that sounds like you, there’s good news: investing in physical gold is easier and more secure than ever. Owning physical gold gives you the security of knowing that should anything happen–blackouts, global communications failure, political strife–whatever happens, you’ll have the safety and assurance of mankind’s oldest currency: gold.

Why Physical Gold Might Work for You

One of the reasons you might want to invest in physical gold is the speed at which you can divest yourself of the investment. In other words, if the market spikes overnight, and you want to sell your assets, if they are held by custodian and managed by an IRA, you may have to file paperwork to get the ball moving.

On the other hand, if you physically possess the gold, you can find a buyer immediately at any of a number of places, online or in person. This freedom could mean higher yields on your investments.

Another reason many people like physical possession of gold is that there is no impact on your retirement accounts. In a gold IRA, for example, if you want to withdraw from it to meet unexpected bills, you face an early withdrawal penalty of 10%. If your gold is in your care, however, you can sell it immediately and not be penalized.

The last reason physical gold might work for you is, frankly, in case of dire emergencies. I’m not predicting anything like this will happen, but if there is a truly catastrophic event that wipes out our conventional banking apparatus, you’ll be happy you have gold bullion and coins at your disposal.

In fact, many of the gold IRA companies I listed above have great physical gold options, designed for every kind of emergency.

Pros and Cons

With great reward comes great risk, and that’s never more true than with man’s oldest money.

  • Easy access to your assets
  • No reporting to the IRS regarding retirement implications
  • Peace of mind that your gold is under your care
  • Security during dire emergencies
  • Providing safety and security of gold
  • Transporting gold between locations can be difficult
  • Not subject to IRS tax sheltering


Diversifying our portfolios is an important step toward financial security. After all, we don’t want all our money in one basket, just in case something happens to that basket. If you’re looking beyond crypto, stocks, and bonds, then you might consider gold investments.

The five companies I recommend are all experts in delivering IRA accounts, Roth and traditional, and can even help with all forms of rollover. If you’re looking at physical gold investments, these companies can even help you find secure transportation and insurance for your valuable assets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I buy gold anywhere? 

You can, but I don’t recommend it. It’s important to work through reputable companies that have relationships with suppliers. This makes sure you don’t end up with inferior gold product, or gold that isn’t worth what it claims to be.

Can I sell my gold anywhere? 

Again, you can, but most people work through online and in-person gold investment companies, like the ones I linked to. They can provide you with trusted custodians, transportation, and even help you find insurance for your gold while it’s in transit.

Which is better – IRA or physical?

There’s no one, easy answer to that. For some people who have greater cause for concern, physical gold may be the best option. On the other hand, if you’re reasonably assured about accessing your traditional funds, then an IRA may be best for you.

If I want to invest, what’s my first step? 

The first step is research. Find out how much you want to invest, and decide if you want to use existing retirement funds, or new funds. Next, I would look into the article I linked to above for which company fits your goals. provides all its content for informational purposes only, and this should not be taken as financial advice to buy, trade or sell cryptocurrency or use any specific exchange. Please do not use this website as investment advice, financial advice or legal advice, and each individual's needs may vary from that of the author. This post includes affiliate links with our partners who may compensate us. 

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