In today's uncertain economic times, it's more important than ever to diversify your retirement portfolio. One way to do this is by investing in precious metals. But opening a self-directed IRA can be a major hassle. That's why companies like Birch Gold Group streamline the process for you.
Birch Gold Group is a popular precious metals IRA company that's heavily endorsed by Ben Shapiro. It has been in the industry for nearly two decades. Does it actually stand up to the competition?
About Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group was founded in 2003, so it now has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. Over the past two decades, it has become one of the most popular gold IRA companies in the nation. The company operates out of Burbank, California, and they ship precious metals throughout the United States.
The team at Birch Gold Group is experienced in both precious metals and the finance industry. Every client is given individual attention. If you have questions about the industry or the products available, you can get answers without any hassle. There are also educational resources for clients available through the website for free.
Birch Gold Group does have a positive reputation among both professionals and past clients. The Better Business Bureau gives them an A+ rating, and they have been accredited with the organization since 2011. The Business Consumer Alliance gives Birch Gold an AAA rating, which is the highest mark possible.
The Birch Gold website discusses the different values with which the company operates. Some of them include ethics, education, efficiency, and transparency.
Ben Shapiro has endorsed Birch Gold Group as the only gold dealer he purchases from. He is one of the main celebrity draws for the company. Members of the Birch Gold team frequently appear on his podcast to discuss the economy, precious metals investing, and current events.
Birch Gold Group mainly offers precious metals IRA services. They help you set up and fund a self-directed IRA, and then they help you purchase precious metals for it. The website does not list the prices, so you'll need to call and find out about the current quote.
Opening a Precious Metals IRA
You can open a precious metals IRA with Birch Gold Group. Their website provides information about how the process works. They have a more streamlined approach than many other precious metals dealers. When you get started, you'll be paired with a precious metals specialist who can walk you through the process.
The easiest way to fund this account is by using a rollover. You can transfer money from your existing retirement holdings without incurring any penalties.
These are the basic steps:
1. Create and Fund the Account
In order to invest in precious metals, you will need to create a self-directed IRA. This will need to be maintained by a licensed custodian. Your Birch Gold Group representative can help you with the paperwork to establish this account. You may then be transferred to your custodian to handle the funding process.
The process of creating your precious metals IRA is relatively simple thanks to Birch Gold's approach. You'll receive detailed instructions on exactly what to do and what paperwork to sign. If you do need to work directly with your custodian, you'll be given the link to their website.
You can also work with your precious metals specialist when deciding how to fund your account. Maybe you have a few different retirement accounts or other portfolios. Your representative can look at your account information and help you decide which one is the best to fund your self-directed IRA.
2. Choose the Metals
Once you have transferred the funds to your account, you will choose the metals that you want to invest in. There are strict IRS guidelines regarding the types of metals. You must have IRS-approved purity standards and products. Precious metals IRA companies like Birch Gold make it easy to buy IRS-approved precious metals.
You can talk to your specialist about the different options available to you. Birch Gold sells all four main precious metals: silver, gold, palladium, and platinum. Each has different advantages, disadvantages, and long term potential for growth. The exact items that work for you will vary depending on your personal needs.
Once you've decided which metals you want to buy, you will finalize the purchase with your specialist. Upon giving your confirmation, the order will be created.
3. Wait for the Metals to Be Shipped
You don't actually need to do anything during this step. At this point, Birch Gold and your custodian have it covered. Birch Gold will ship a fully-insured package containing your precious metals to the depository of your choice. Your chosen custodian will receive the package and place the metals in your vault.
Birch Gold Group works with a variety of different depositories throughout the US. Their most common partners are Delaware Depository and Brinks Global Services. With both of these companies, your holdings are fully insured for up to $1 billion.
You should receive a confirmation email when the package ships, along with a tracking number.
4. Monitor Performance Until You're Ready to Take Distributions
Birch Gold Group aims to create a long-lasting partnership with their clients. After you've purchased the precious metals, you can call your specialist to get an update on your holdings. You can also make changes over the phone and ask questions about your account growth.
Purchasing Precious Metals with Cash
While Birch Gold Group's main services are related to precious metals IRAs, they also allow people to make regular cash purchases of precious metals. If you want to add precious metals to your personal investment portfolio, you can easily do so.
There are three main steps involved in making a purchase:
1. Choose Your Metals
You'll want to decide which precious metals you want to buy. Birch Gold Group has most of the most popular coins and bars available for purchase. Precious metals from official government mints tend to have more stable value over time when compared to numismatic collectibles.
You'll choose what type of precious metal to buy and whether to get coins or bars. You'll also decide how much money you want to invest in your precious metals purchase.
2. Send Your Payment
Birch Gold Group accepts payments through a personal check or bank wire transfer. Unfortunately, they do not appear to take cards, Paypal, or cryptocurrency. So if you want to pay through a different method, this company might not be for you.
A bank wire transfer will process much more quickly than a personal check. In addition to the time it takes to mail, personal checks must be held for several days to make sure they clear. If you want your items in the fastest time frame possible, a wire transfer is your best bet.
3. Receive Your Package
The package will be sent to the shipping address of your choice. Since the contents are fully insured, you will need to sign for it. The packaging itself is nondescript and doesn't include any mention of the contents or the company's name.
Since you're making a cash purchase rather than an IRA purchase, you have no storage obligations. You can keep the precious metals wherever you want. But it is a good idea to put them in a depository somewhere, as this is significantly safer and more reliable than home storage.
Available Storage Options
When you're purchasing precious metals for a gold IRA, you need to place them in a licensed depository. Birch Gold Group mainly works with Delaware Depository and Brinks Global Services. The right depository for you might vary depending on your preferred location, type of vault, and fees.
The staff running the Delaware Depository has more than two centuries of total combined precious metals experience. There's basically no precious metals question that they can't answer. Not only that, but they also tend to have a good grasp on economic factors that might affect the price of precious metals.
Delaware Depository has an incredibly robust insurance policy. The insurance fees are included in your basic storage fees, so you get full insurance automatically. All account contents are insured for up to $1 billion in case of theft, natural disaster, or any other damage.
In addition to the vaults themselves, every package shipped by Delaware Depository is insured for up to $100,000. So when the time comes to take distributions from your account, you don't have to worry about your packages getting lost or stolen along the way. You can be reimbursed for the full cost.
As the name implies, Delaware Depository's most popular location is in Delaware. But the company also has a newer depository located in California. Depending on which coast you're closer to, you might want to choose one over the other. Both depositories are subject to the highest security standards, including state of the art technology and 24/7 surveillance.
Delaware Depository is compliant with all IRS regulations for storage of precious metals. They are licensed with the CME group. Accounts are audited regularly to make sure that the physical holdings match the balance sheet. All incoming and outgoing packages are also carefully inspected to make sure the metals are the correct purity.
Brinks Global Services
Brinks is one of the most well-known security companies in the world. Many people are familiar with their armored trucks. But did you know that they have precious metals depositories as well? In fact, there are over 1,000 secure Brinks storage facilities spread throughout the globe.
The most common Brinks locations for Birch Gold customers are:
Again, the right depository for you might depend on your region.
Obviously Brinks is able to transport precious metals securely with their armored trucks. But they also guarantee that they can transport your precious metals through the air or by sea.
Another thing that Brinks is well known for is its customer service. The dedicated customer service team can look at your account, answer questions about your holdings, and solve any issues that you might ever have. On top of this, Brinks claims total liability for the loss of any items in their depositories or on their transport vehicles.
What About Home Storage?
You might hear some companies claim that they can set up a home storage precious metals IRA. But Birch Gold Group strongly cautions against this. The truth is more complicated than it sounds.
It is true that you can use an extremely complicated paperwork setup to store precious metals inside an LLC inside a self-directed IRA. But the legality is dubious. The IRS prohibits storing IRA precious metals at your home. In fact, the tax court has ruled against people with LLC IRAs before. Those people had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.
That never would have been an issue if they'd simply worked with a normal depository and paid the annual storage fees instead.
Is Birch Gold Group a Scam?
Birch Gold Group is not a scam. Not only does the company provide all the services that they claim to, but they also have some of the most competitive policies in the market.
Birch Gold has been in business since 2003, boasting nearly two decades in the industry. It has been accredited with the BBB for over a decade and holds an A+ rating. There are 75 customer reviews on the BBB website that give an average of 4.84 out of 5 stars, indicating nearly universal praise.
There have been a few complaints filed with the BBB. Nine have been filed in the prior three years, with two being in the past year. With that said, the content of the complaints can tell you a lot about how well the company is managed.
Let's take a look at the most recent ones.
The most recent complaint is from November of 2021. The customer said that they had talked to Birch Gold about purchasing silver bullion at the beginning of October. They told their customer service rep that they wanted to make a cash purchase first, and then look into IRA options afterward.
The customer asked for a price quote, and the representative said that the quote wouldn't be locked in until the funds were wired. But he did say that the price would be 2% over spot, plus a 7% markup for each customer. This is a high level of transparency, and it's information that isn't readily available on Birch Gold Group's website.
After the customer had bought the items and sent the money, they were put in contact with a new representative. The new representative said there was a different pricing structure being used. The customer ended up paying a higher price and was upset because they couldn't cancel due to a fear of cancellation fees.
Birch Gold Group responded to say that they'd contacted the customer and resolved the problem. They also added that this type of experience was totally against their policy, and that they took full responsibility for any miscommunications. They said that they somewhat disagreed with the customer's view of things, but that they cared more about an amicable resolution than about arguing.
The customer followed up to say that they accepted the resolution. They also added a note that the company went far above and beyond in terms of rectifying the error. Because of this, the customer was totally satisfied. They said they were extremely grateful for how quickly Birch Gold responded and how easy they made the resolution process.
The next most recent complaint was from June 28 of 2021. This customer said that they had begun a transaction at the beginning of June, but it had taken more than two weeks to process. The customer hadn't yet received any receipt or information about shipping, even though they'd sent the funds. Despite sending emails and leaving a voicemail, they hadn't been able to get a response from the company.
Birch Gold Group responded to say that they were deeply sorry about the problems, but that the issue was actually resolved before they were even told about the complaint. The main problem was that the receipt was being sent through the mail. With USPS delays, it had taken a while to arrive. But it had been mailed out just a few days after the purchase was finalized.
Once the company received a phone call from the customer, they emailed a digitized receipt. The customer said that he didn't accept this because the emailed receipt didn't have any itemization of the individual purchases. Birch Gold then reached back out to give a more detailed receipt with information about the individual items in question.
All in all, the handling of these complaints shows a good team behind Birch Gold Group. They are willing to put the customer first, even when it might inconvenience them. They have also resolved complaints extremely quickly, sometimes even before being told any complaint was filed with the BBB.
It's also encouraging that the first customer was so satisfied with their resolution. That customer even went so far as to say that they'd keep doing business with Birch Gold in the future.
Pros & Cons of Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group is one of the most impressive gold IRA companies in the industry. Since they've been operating since 2003, they have years of experience on some of the newer competitors. They have garnered an excellent reputation for both their cash sales and IRA services.
One of Birch Gold Group's biggest selling points is the company's celebrity partnership with Ben Shapiro. Ben Shapiro says that he exclusively buys gold from Birch Gold. He is often shown to be the flagship personality on the website, and a lot of the clientele comes from his recommendation.
Celebrity endorsements are fairly typical for precious metals dealers, though. What's really impressive is Birch Gold Group's reviews. They have received hundreds of positive reviews from past customers who praise the pricing, communication, and ease of use.
Additionally, when there have been complaints filed, Birch Gold has done everything possible to resolve the problems. In fact, one customer was so impressed that they said they'd keep doing business with the company in the future, even though they were disappointed at first. This indicates that even if you have a rare negative experience, the customer team cares enough to make it right.
Overall, this is a solid choice for a gold IRA. They don't have as much information about their ownership and management as some other companies, nor do they post their pricing publicly. But if you don't mind calling for a quote, the customer satisfaction does indicate that they have the low prices they claim.