Vanguard Gold IRA: Alternatives and Options

by Grant HEnson

*The owners of this website may be paid to recommend some precious metals companies. The content on this website, including any positive reviews of these companies and other reviews, may not be neutral or independent.

Vanguard, recognized for its reliability in managing retirement funds, has primarily focused on traditional investment avenues like stocks and bonds.  

Despite the established trust investors place in Vanguard, it's noteworthy that the institution doesn't extend its services to include gold IRAs. Gold, with its historical significance as a form of currency, has gained renewed attention as an essential diversification tool for portfolios.

This becomes particularly relevant in the current global context of high inflation. Given Vanguard's traditionalist approach, we'll delve into alternative options for gold IRAs in the forthcoming discussion.

Understanding What a Gold IRA is

A gold IRA, or precious metals IRA, is a self-directed retirement account enabling investment in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium instead of traditional options. These assets are reserved until retirement age (59 and a ½ in the U.S.). Similar to traditional IRAs, gold IRAs are funded with pre-tax dollars, reducing taxable income: investments grow tax-deferred. 

Roth Gold IRAs, funded post-tax, offer tax-free withdrawals, including gains. Gold's historical stability makes it a popular hedge against inflation. Beyond gold's intrinsic value, diversifying across assets minimizes risk, a key benefit of a gold IRA.

Why Vanguard Doesn't Offer Gold IRAs

Vanguard, among the oldest IRA institutions globally, maintains its position as a top IRA company with an enduring, low-risk investment philosophy. Focused on providing substantial yet secure returns, their product offerings center around traditional options like stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. The company's success lies in adhering to these proven choices. 

Notably, Vanguard avoids the volatility and unpredictability associated with gold, considering it riskier than stocks and bonds. Consequently, Vanguard does not endorse trading in gold or offer alternative investment opportunities, including real estate, aligning with their conservative investment approach.

Alternative Providers for Gold IRAs 

Having explored Vanguard's conservative investment approach, let's delve into alternative providers embracing gold IRAs: Goldco and Augusta Precious Metals. In contrast to Vanguard's long-standing tradition, both Goldco and Augusta have secured a robust customer base in the gold IRA industry, positioning them as significant players. 

These companies differentiate themselves by specializing in precious metals, offering services tailored to gold IRAs. While Vanguard leans towards traditional options like stocks and bonds, Goldco and Augusta Precious Metals cater to investors seeking diversification through gold and other precious metals, providing an alternative approach to retirement investment.

Augusta Precious Metals

Investing with Augusta Precious Metals allows you quick and easy access to gold and silver bullion bars and coins that are within the purity limits set by the IRS. These include coins and bullions from the U.S mint itself and from the Royal Mints of numerous other countries including Canada and Australia. 

Before you can invest in gold and silver assets directly, Augusta also helps you set up your personal gold IRA by attaching a customer service success agent with you that guides you through the entire process. 

After you’ve set up your gold IRA and purchased your gold coins or bullions, Augusta also manages safe storage for these metals in specialized depositories that were designed to hold gold purchased through a gold IRA. 


Goldco’s services mirror that of Augusta’s, albeit with two key differences. Instead of offering only gold and silver as an investment option, Goldco provides its customers with a range of precious metals to choose from including gold, silver, platinum and palladium. This provides customers with more variety in the assets they can invest in, which in turn gives them more chances to ensure their investment is successful. 

Also, unlike Augusta, which attaches a singular customer service success agent with each of their customers, Goldco prefers to offer general and responsive customer service to all their customers. A feature that could work, if the response from the customer service department is timely and helpful in solving the customer’s problem.  

How to Choose a Gold IRA Provider

Investors dedicate thought to alternative investments like precious metals for IRA setup. However, choosing the right provider is often overlooked. This is a big mistake, since a top-notch gold IRA provider can make the difference between good and bad investments. Let’s look at some considerations in choosing a gold IRA provider:

Credibility Matters

Evaluate providers based on glowing recommendations and a minimum of 5 years in the industry. Augusta Precious Metals and Goldco excel in these criteria.

Transparent Fee Structures

Reliable providers offer clear fee structures or tiers, adjusting charges based on opted services and varying investment amounts.

Secure Storage Options

Reputable providers ensure recognized, secure storage options, like The Delaware Depository, with a proven track record.

Responsive Customer Service

For a reputable gold IRA provider, informative, helpful, and responsive customer service is essential. Given gold's volatility, constant attention is crucial to ensure profitable outcomes.

Steps to Setup a Precious Metals IRA

Once you’ve decided on the alternative IRA provider you’re going to do business with, the steps to set up the account are quite simple. 

  • You're first going to be asked to fill out a form on your IRA provider’s website, where you’ll provide ID, proof of residence and employment information.
  • After reading through your application, if your chosen IRA provider accepts the application, you’ll get a call from a customer service rep who’ll help you set up a self-directed IRA.
  • This will involve finding and hiring a reputable account custodian. Your chosen IRA provider should give you a list of options to choose from in this case.
  • After hiring a custodian, you may have to pay a one-time fee and your IRA provider will set up a self-directed IRA in your name. 

Investment Options in Gold IRAs

As mentioned before, gold isn't the only permissible investment option in gold IRAs. In fact, gold IRAs support a bunch of different precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium. 

However, these metals can only be eligible for investment through a gold IRA when they pass through this specific purity test set by the IRS:

  • Gold held in an IRA must have a minimum fineness of 0.995. This means that gold in a gold IRA must be 99.5% pure. 
  • Silver held in an IRA must have a minimum fineness of 0.999. This means that sliver in an IRA must be 99.9% pure. 
  • Platinum held in an IRA must have a minimum fineness of 0.9995. This means that platinum in an IRA must be 99.95% pure. 
  • Palladium in an IRA must have a minimum fineness of 0.9995, similar to platinum. This means that palladium in an IRA must be 99.95% pure.

All coins and bullion bars that pass through this fineness test are eligible for purchase through a gold IRA. In addition to physical precious metals including gold, a gold IRA also allows investors to invest in gold ETFs and mutual funds

While these investment options don’t end with you gaining access to physical gold coins or bullions, these can be effective for investors looking to capitalize off gold’s increasing value in the short term. 

Risks and Considerations in Gold Investing

Investing in gold offers diversification, but it comes with risks due to high volatility. Factors like exploitative interest rates, geopolitical events, and market conditions swiftly influence gold prices. The market value of gold is heavily reliant on supply, demand, global events, gold mine outputs, and central bank policies. 

Despite gold's own liquidity, low market liquidity can complicate buying or selling of your assets at desired prices. We’re sharing these risks not to discourage a gold IRA — but to ensure awareness of potential challenges in this investment journey.

Managing Your Gold IRA

With that said, once your self-directed precious metals IRA is set up, several factors require consideration before delving into precious metals purchases.

Storage Requirements

Gold held in a gold IRA must comply with IRS regulations, this requirement demands storage in secure third-party depositories, either in segregated or pooled storage. Hence, selecting a reputable depository specializing in gold IRA storage is a crucial decision.

Withdrawal Regulations

Understanding withdrawal rules is paramount. Withdrawals from a gold IRA are permitted only after reaching the age of 59 ½. Any premature withdrawal incurs a 10% early withdrawal penalty, emphasizing the importance of refraining from withdrawals until reaching retirement age.


To sum up, while Vanguard is one of the oldest and most reputable IRA providers in the world, it does not offer gold IRAs to its customers. Thankfully, customers who want to open a gold IRA can use trusted companies such as Goldco or Augusta Precious Metals

Both of these companies possess a similar reputation to Vanguard’s along with a vast and diverse customer base. Of course, you should dive headfirst into business with a company without doing your due diligence. Consult a financial advisor before creating an account with either company to make a calculated and well thought out decision.

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