USAA Gold IRA Review

Disclaimer: We are reader supported.  We may be compensated from the links in this post, if you use products or services based on our expert recommendations. Please read our Advertising Disclosure.

USAA is a financial institution that provides loans, insurance, and banking services, is a mutual company.

This means that USAA is a private, nonprofit organization in which members or policyholders are invested in the business. 

USAA stands for the United Services Automobile Association, and was founded in San Antonio, Texas.  The business became a reality in 1922 when 25 Army officers got together and pooled their resources and insure each other's automobiles.

USAA has grown from humble beginnings to serve millions of customers. 

But do they offer IRAs that can hold physical gold and other precious metals?  Keep reading to find out.

Before we get started with this article:

We understand how difficult it is to pick a company that you can trust with your hard earned savings.  That's why we create informative and useful information to give you as much knowledge as possible to make the right decision.

We created a list of our highest recommended investment companies, to make comparing and choosing the company best suited to your needs as easy as possible.

Look to see if USAA was selected to our "highest recommendation" list this year!


Get a FREE Gold Investing Kit from our #1 recommendation, by clicking the button below:

Protect Your Savings - Tax and Penalty Free!

And now, back to the article...

About USAA

usaa homepage

USAA was initially formed to provide insurance and banking services to military officers and their families.   

Today, it offers a variety of financial products and services to individuals who have a connection with the military services or veterans of the military services who have honorably served their country.

In recent years, USAA has entered the world of precious metals. Unfortunately, USAA does not offer IRAs that can hold physical gold investments.

Instead, USAA offers financial instruments such as gold-related certificates. These instruments are designed for short-term investment and not for retirement funds.

Why Put Gold in Your IRA?

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) protect your retirement as well as your family's financial security.

These special accounts allow you to set aside tax protected savings that you can use in the future.   

With these long term accounts it's important to allocate a significant portion to assets that are solid and reliable, so you have a secure retirement. 

a couple listening to a financial advisor

You can have cash in an IRA, but that is devaluing at a rapid pace and inflation is out of control. 

You need an asset that's reliable, retains it's value, and even increases in value over time, and there is no better asset for this than gold. 

With the world's economy struggling through lockdowns, shortages, wars, and inflation, uncertainty has never been higher and investors are protecting themselves by placing physical gold in IRA's. 

A gold IRA investment prospers from these crisis that negatively affect most other assets. 

Risk is knowing the economic dangers and doing nothing to protect yourself and your family. 

Safety is knowing the economic dangers and taking action to protect your financial future, and this easy to do with a gold IRA.

Learn How a Gold IRA Can Protect Your Wealth

What is a Gold IRA?

A gold IRA is an IRA account in which the assets are held as investments in physical gold or gold-related financial instruments. These investments may be held until the account holder can take distributions from the IRA account.

An individual may contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA and then convert that traditional IRA account into a gold-backed IRA. Those funds can be held in a self-directed IRA until the account holder retires. 

They can then take distributions from their retirement fund in the form of physical metals, or they can sell them and take the cash to purchase physical gold, silver, and other precious metals, or whatever they choose.

Some people who have self-directed IRAs purchase shares of gold-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to hold in their IRA accounts.

They can then take distributions from their IRAs at retirement and they are usually taxed at a lower percentage because they are retired. 

Precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum are eligible to be held in IRAs. The IRS allows individuals to hold up to 100 ounces of precious physical metal in their traditional and Roth IRAs.

Benefits of a Gold IRA

  • Avoid Capital Gains Tax

If an investor purchases gold or physical bullion, and the price rises, and then they sell they have made a capital gain. This is considered a taxable investment. On the other hand, if this same transaction happens in an IRA, they avoid paying capital gains tax. 

An investor must hold the gold or bullion for at least one year to avoid paying capital gains tax on their investment return.   

The IRS considers holding gold in a self-directed IRA to be tangible property.  Money used for investment is treated differently than money used for other reasons, such as personal income or funds raised through selling stocks and bonds.

  • Tax-Deferred Growth

If an investor holds gold in their IRA, the growth of the asset is not taxable until they take distributions from their IRA.

Gold has traditionally performed well, even in the times when stock market is in a recession; therefore, it is important to consider holding gold in an IRA.

  • Tax-Free Distribution

To take a distribution from an IRA, the individual must have held the gold or bullion for five years.

Since assets held in a self-directed IRA are considered tangible property, they are eligible for tax-free distributions, if you meet the minimum retirement age requirements.

Individuals can transfer their 401ks and receive tax-free income in their retirement on their Gold IRA investments.

  • Hedge Against Inflation

Physical gold and silver are considered hedges against inflation as well as a market collapse.

Over the past century, the cost of goods, nearly all goods, has increased while the value of gold to required purchase the same amount of goods has remained relatively steady. 

During times of inflation, investments like stocks may decrease in value, and purchasing power may decrease due to a lack of demand for goods and services.

Gold is limited in supply, making it a valuable asset for someone who wants to protect their finances from unexpected inflation or possibly eve deflation.

ETF vs. Physical Gold

An Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is an investment in which an asset is divided into shares and held by an individual. The shares are traded on exchanges, much like stocks. 

An ETF may hold various paper assets such as gold mining stocks, emerging markets, or bond funds. If an individual purchases an ETF such as Gold ETF, they purchase a share of the gold held in the fund.

gold bars

The fund managers do not disclose specific details about account holdings for security purposes.  

Physical gold is held in the investors name with a custodian. The gold is securely stored at a bank vault or a non-bank storage site with professionally trained individuals.

If physical gold is purchased through an IRA account, an individual can have the gold shipped to their address, or they may call the custodian to pick up and transfer the bullion to their address.

Some people choose to store their bullion in a safe place at home instead of storing it with the custodian.  This should NOT be done if you want to hold gold in tax protected IRA account, contrary to some bad information to be found on the internet. 

The main difference between ETF and physical gold is the cost of owning gold. Gold is a rare and valuable commodity, which makes it easy for investors to sell out of the market and raise cash due to the market being large and liquid.

Investors may prefer holding gold in their IRA over purchasing an ETF because the costs are lower and you can hold physical metals, instead of paper which is nothing more than a third parties liability.

Gold-related exchange-traded funds trade on stock exchanges usually after prices have been established at the original issue by the fund's sponsor. The futures contracts establish the price of gold. 

Investors purchase shares of the ETF, which entitle them to specific amounts of gold or bullion. The prices are based on the value of assets held in the fund. These assets are held in an allocated account for the benefit of shareholders and are maintained by a custodian.

What Is a Self-Directed IRA?

A self-directed IRA (SDIRA) is an individual retirement account that gives owners of these accounts the freedom to make their own investment decisions. There are over 100 different types of assets that can be held in a self-directed IRA account.

The most common assets held in SDIRA accounts include real estate, notes/loans, precious metals, and private businesses.   

Self-Directed IRA providers differ in how they offer this investing opportunity. Some providers offer a specific list of approved asset classes and investments, which may or may not include precious metals.

Other providers allow for the creation of specific investment portfolios to meet the needs of individual investors.

How Does a Gold IRA Work?

A Gold IRA involves three parties. The IRA beneficiary, the custodian, and the trustee.
The beneficiary has the lifetime right to request withdrawals from the account, and any income generated from assets in the account goes directly to them.

The custodian maintains a safekeeping role for assets in an IRA, which requires regular reporting responsibilities for transactions of any kind with respect to these assets.   

The trustee is a third party that supervises the IRA's investments and manages the IRA's investments. The custodian holds the gold, bullion, or bars, which are provided for safekeeping in any form.

They keep all paper documents related to the account, including the personal financial information of those who invest in this account. The trustee holds the legal title to any assets held in the account.

The trustee will oversee investments and report transactions related to the IRA's assets.

Types of Gold IRA Accounts

  • SEP Gold IRA

A SEP IRA, or Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account, is a retirement investment account that allows you to make contributions using your earned income.

A SEP IRA can be an effective way to save for retirement while reducing your taxable income during the year. This can make it easier to meet your savings goals and take full advantage of the tax advantages of an IRA.

  • Traditional Gold IRA

A Traditional IRA is a retirement plan that gives you the option to defer taxes on your investments until they are distributed.

With these types of accounts, you can choose whether to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) or make tax-free withdrawals. The IRS allows you to put up to $5,000 a year of your own money into an IRA.

If you do not qualify for an individual retirement plan such as an IRA, consider contributing to a non-qualified plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b).

  • Roth Gold IRA

A Roth IRA provides tax-free growth and is funded by post-tax contributions. Unlike other IRAs, there is no required minimum distribution period, so you do not have to begin taking distributions from a Roth IRA until you are age 70 ½ or older.

When you contribute to a Roth IRA, your investment grows tax-free, and if certain requirements are met, you will not be taxed on distributions in retirement.

A Roth IRA is funded by after-tax contributions, which means that your contributions are not tax-deductible when they are made.

What Precious Metals Are Eligible for Gold IRAs?


Gold is an extremely popular investment and can be beneficial in IRA accounts. Gold is a fairly stable investment that can outperform other assets in the stock market especially when there is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty in the markets.

Because of this, every prudent investor should have a significant amount of exposure to gold in their portfolio.

Here are some popular gold investment examples:

  • Australian Kangaroo coins
  • Canadian Maple Leaf coins
  • Austrian Philharmonic coins
  • American Eagle coins


Silver is a popular investment for self-directed IRA accounts. The IRS mandates that silver must contain at least .999 purity to be eligible. It is popular with investors as an alternative investment to gold.

Silver is also useful as a hedge against inflation, and its value is likely to rise in tandem with that of gold. 

Here are some popular silver investment examples:

  • Canadian Maple Leaf coins
  • Mexican Libertad coins
  • Australian Kookaburra coins


Platinum is another precious metal that can be used in IRA accounts. It has many features like gold, including a higher price point and marketability as an investment. If you have high-value assets or large investments, platinum might be a good option. 


  • Isle of Man Noble coins
  • American Eagle coins
  • Australian Koala coins
  • Canadian Maple Leaf coins


Palladium is a precious metal that can be used in gold IRA accounts. It is similar to platinum and can help protect investor portfolios against inflation. Palladium also protects against market volatility, making it a good investment for those who want to reduce their risk.

IRA Approved Coins

The IRS has a list of coins that they say can be held in an IRA. IRS Publication 590 lists those coins, and they are updated every year. The list of approved investments includes gold, silver, palladium, and platinum bullion assets named in the coin series.

  • American Eagle
  • Canadian Maple Leaf
  • Austrian Philharmonic
  • Australian Kookaburra
  • Australian Koala
  • Mexican Libertad
  • American Buffalo
  • Australian Kangaroo
  • And many more...

How to Fund Your Gold IRA

  • Cash

You can fund a gold IRA by check, cash, or bank transfer.  Your custodian will give you a statement that describes each asset that has been purchased with your funds. This can be useful if you sell some of the assets before they are fully vested.

  • 401k to IRA Rollover

You can also use funds from another an old 401k to fund your gold IRA. This is known as a rollover, and it requires that the original account be closed before the transfer takes place. It also requires that you fill out the required paperwork as part of the transfer process.

  • IRA Transfer

To move funds from one IRA to another, the custodian must have a Form 1099-R and a 1099-INT for each transaction. This requires additional paperwork and generally takes a few days to complete.

Depository Storage Facility

 A depository storage facility (DSF) is an organization that provides physical gold, silver, or platinum bullion storage services. Unlike a bank, which may offer additional services such as trading and currency exchange, a DSF can only store and safeguard precious metals, keeping them safe from theft or loss. 

When you open a Gold IRA account with a DSF, you can choose between storing your metals in vaults in the United States or overseas.  

Commingled vs. Segregated Storage

DSFs may offer either commingled storage or segregated storage. Commingled storage means that many clients' assets are stored in the same location, which can work well for investors who want to be able to add or withdraw assets quickly.

Segregated storage means that each account is kept separate from others, which can be useful for investors who do not want their money to be exposed to the assets of other clients. Segregated accounts also have higher minimums.

IRA Withdrawal Rules

To withdraw your money from a gold IRA, you must reach the age of 59 1/2. You must also pay an early withdrawal penalty on the amount withdrawn if you do not meet those conditions. The penalty is equal to 10% of the withdrawn assets, and it applies on top of any taxes that you would be required to pay under normal circumstances. 

There are a few other situations where you may be able to make early withdrawals from a gold IRA. If the assets are treated as uncharacterized contributions (if you opened the account before 1997), or if the funds were distributed because of death, disability, or a down payment on your first home, then those assets will not accrue any penalties for being withdrawn early. 

RMDs must be made regularly during your retirement. The federal government requires you to withdraw a minimum of $1,000 every year, which begins on January 1st of the year following when you turn 71 years old.

The $1,000 withdrawal is subject to state and local income taxes that apply within your state when it's deposited into your checking account. 


Opening a gold IRA is a great way to safeguard your future and protect yourself against economic uncertainty. Gold IRA accounts provide easy access to your funds and are known for their reliability as an investment.

They are often better than other retirement account options because they allow you to hold the assets in the actual precious metals.

When you decide to make a gold IRA, you will want to choose a precious metals company with a strong reputation for customer service and stability. 

USAA is not a good option if you are looking for a gold IRA, but don't worry, there are a few companies out there that specialize in these retirement investments that we recommend.

You can get a Free Gold Investors Guide from our top gold and precious metals company recommendation by clicking the link above or you can read our article of the top companies we reviewed this year:

>> CLICK HERE to read our list of the Top Gold IRA Companies. <<

Or, if you like what you have read about USAA, you can go to there website below: