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The idea of opening a precious metals IRA can be intimidating. You have to comply with a ton of IRS regulations and fill out a mountain of paperwork to transfer the funds. Some people get so overwhelmed that they never even bother to try.
That's why companies like Birch Gold Group were invented. Birch Gold Group helps people set up a self-directed IRA and purchase precious metals for it. But how legitimate are their services? Is there anything that you should know prior to getting started?
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About Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group boasts nearly two decades of experience in the precious metals industry. They have become one of the most popular choices for precious metals IRAs due to their solid reputation and impressive history. Having been founded in 2003, they operate out of California and ship precious metals everywhere in the US.
When you're looking for an online precious metals dealer, it's easy to be led astray. There are even more online scammers than there are seedy pawnshops. It's important to find a company that has the trust of investors and a successful history. Birch does manage to have both.
Birch Gold Group has also been endorsed by a number of conservative personalities, the most prominent of whom is commentator Ben Shapiro. Ben Shapiro has endorsed the company multiple times on his show and has spoken at length about why he works with Birch Gold Group above other options.
The company is made up of a team of precious metals and IRA experts. Each customer gets an individual solution tailored to their specific needs. While Birch Gold mainly focuses on retirement accounts, they also have bullion available to purchase as a regular cash investment.
Part of their process involves walking you through the paperwork to set up an IRA and transfer funds into it. Then they will find out what you need from your investment, and they'll make suggestions for the best bullion to suit your goals.
Fees for Investments
With any precious metals IRA, you can expect to need to pay ongoing annual fees. These are to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of your storage account. The fees vary depending on the custodian and the depository that you use.
There is a minimum investment threshold for Birch Gold Group. However, it is lower than with many of the competitors. You only need to have $10,000 to roll over into a precious metals purchase. It's common for similar companies to have account minimums of anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000.
Even if $10,000 is still a little steep for some people, it's much more doable for younger investors. There's also a minimum purchase requirement of $10,000 if you're investing in precious metals for a personal cash portfolio.
With an IRA, you can expect to pay storage and maintenance fees of about $180 per year. This includes the cost of fully insuring your account. Unlike other companies, Birch Gold Group does not use percentage-based fees. That means that you'll never pay more than $180 a year, no matter how much gold you accumulate.
You don't have any maintenance fees if you make a cash purchase, unless you choose to hold your items in a depository. Birch Gold Group can ship them right to your door instead if you want.
There is a flat setup fee for the IRA process. You'll pay $50 to have someone walk you through all the setup and transfer paperwork. This also includes connecting you with a custodian and communicating as your liaison. That's a relatively low price for all of this work, especially considering other companies often charge $150 to $300 for similar services.
You will also have to pay a $30 fee for the bank wire transfer to fund your account. So the total setup fee is $80, minus the cost of storage and maintenance.
While Birch Gold Group doesn't run any storage depositories, they have partnered with companies that do. They most closely work with Delaware Depository and Brinks Global Services, both of which operate IRS-approved depositories. If you invest in a precious metals IRA, you must use an IRS-approved storage facility.
When your precious metals are shipped to the vault, the package is fully insured until signed for upon arrival. Then your custodian will process and empty the package into your fully insured vault. Every account is audited and independently verified to make sure that the physical holdings match up to the digital statement.
Let's look at both of the depository options offered.
As you might have guessed, Delaware Depository operates out of Delaware. Not only that, but the facility has been in operation for over two centuries. They are firm experts in the precious metals industry, having witnessed the entire trading history throughout the US's growth.
Every account with Delaware Depository is automatically fully insured. Should anything happen to your items, you'll be fully reimbursed. The metals are insured up to a value of $1 billion, and every package gets insurance coverage of up to $100,000. Should the package be stolen or lost in transit, you can get reimbursement for the full value.
In addition to the Delaware location, Delaware Depository operates one more depository in California. This option might appeal to people on the West Coast. Both vaults are outfitted with top security technology and personnel.
Brinks Global Services
Brinks Global Services works in more than just depositories. You've probably heard of them because of their home security systems, armored cars, or other security services. In fact, they're one of the largest security companies in the entire world.
In total, Brinks Global Services operates over 1,000 precious metals depositories. These are located throughout the globe, including in multiple regions in the US. For customers with Birch Gold Group, the most popular options are located in New York, California, or Utah.
If you make a significant purchase, your gold might be delivered to one of these depositories using an armored truck. Like Delaware Depository, Brinks offers full insurance of packages both in transit and in the company vaults. If anything gets lost from an armored Brinks truck, they claim 100% liability.
The steps to get started with Birch Gold Group are relatively simple.
First, you'll need to create the IRA. This involves working with a custodian. When you get in contact with Birch Gold Group, one of their representatives will walk you through the paperwork. Then your custodian will walk you through the paperwork to transfer the funds.
After the funds have been transferred, you can choose the precious metals for your investment. There are strong guidelines regarding exactly what metals you can and can't have. They must stick to certain purity standards and be manufactured by certain mints.
You'll be able to talk to your Birch specialist about your options. If you have questions about the available products, you can ask. They might ask you questions about your risk tolerance, long term goals for growth, and how long you have until retirement. This will help them to make recommendations based on your unique situation.
As soon as you confirm the order, Birch Gold Group will take care of the rest. They'll ship the order out to your depository of choice. Then it will be processed by your custodian and updated in your digital account.
Is Birch Gold Group a Scam?
Birch Gold Group is not a scam. In addition to having a solid company history, they have also received hundreds of glowing reviews across multiple third party websites. Trustlink, Trustpilot, Consumer Affairs, and the BBB all show high rates of customer satisfaction.
On Trustlink, there are 129 reviews with an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Trustpilot gives 4.8 stars with 122 reviews, while Consumer Affairs gives 4.8 stars with 114 reviews. On the BBB website, there are 4.75 stars based on 64 total reviews.
The praise for the company is nearly unanimous. Birch Gold Group has been accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating. They have been in business for nearly 20 years, which shows that they have an established presence in the precious metals industry.
There have been a handful of complaints filed with the BBB over the past three years. This is to be expected with any major company. With 11 complaints, the number of dissatisfied customers is a pale fraction compared to satisfied ones. Four of those complaints were filed in the prior twelve months.
Birch Gold Group has responded to every customer review and made an attempt to rectify any issues. Let's take a look at some of the conflicts to see how they were resolved.
Positive feedback tells you a lot about a company, and almost all of Birch Gold Group's feedback is positive. Most customers have been extremely happy with the service! That alone lets you know that they're a worthwhile entity to do business with.
But some complaints are inevitable when you serve hundreds of people. Negative feedback gives you a chance to see how a company handles criticism and takes care of their customers. It also helps you determine whether there are any patterns of issues or mismanagement.
So let's see what people have to say about Birch Gold Group.
Loss of Value
One customer left a complaint in March of 2022 regarding the loss in value of their account. The account had been opened in October of the previous year. As of March, the account statement showed that the value had been significantly reduced.
When the customer called the company about the problem, they were told that the actual value of the coins was different from the official statement. But the company wouldn't give that information in writing.
The customer said that they would understand the reduction in value if the price of gold and silver had lowered. But instead, these prices had gotten significantly higher over the prior six months. Therefore, the value of the investment should have increased as well.
The customer stated that they felt that their investments had been misrepresented. In addition, they said that they were having a hard time getting in contact with anyone at the company with authority. They felt that the representatives at the company were being evasive on purpose.
Birch Gold Group responded to say that they had reached out privately to the customer and cleared up the misunderstandings about the account. The issue was that the custodian Equity Trust showed statements based on the spot price, not the actual value. The company further stated that the issue had technically been with Equity Trust rather than with their own brokerage.
This issue has come up with other precious metals firms that work with Equity Trust, too. The account statements often look like much lower than the actual value that was paid for the metals. Customers always pay above spot price, and the Equity Trust statements only show the spot price.
Incorrect Pricing Formula
In November of 2021, a customer filed a complaint about a transaction that had happened the month before. They had called Birch Gold Group to talk about buying silver bullion and potentially opening an IRA. The customer said that they wanted to make a personal bullion purchase first, and then consider an IRA if they were satisfied.
When the customer asked to get a price quote, the representative said that quotes don't go out until the funds are properly wired. But he said that there was a formula for calculating it. The formula was 2% higher than the spot price plus an additional 7% markup for the customer.
The customer verified this formula and gave an example to make sure they were using it correctly. By using the formula, the customer made an estimate as to how much they'd need to pay for 1,500 ounces of silver. But the price that they were quoted the following day upon paying was different.
The customer ended up paying more than they had anticipated for the purchase, and they were told that they couldn't have known the formula. Because Birch Gold Group has strict cancellation policies, the customer went through with the transaction so they wouldn't lose more of their money.
Birch Gold Group responded to say that they had reached out to the customer and resolved the matter. They also apologized and said that the hassle went against their policies. Despite disagreeing with the customer's description of the event, they did their best to arrive at a good solution for everyone.
The customer responded saying that they accepted this resolution. Not only that, but they said that Birch Gold Group had gone above and beyond in fixing the issue. They were extremely happy with the result and said that they would happily continue doing business with the company in the future.
At the end of June in 2021, a customer left a complaint about a transaction that had started at the beginning of the month. This transaction had been processing for over two weeks when it should have been finished.
The customer said that he had made a significant purchase of different precious metals, but the company had failed to send him an itemized receipt. Even though he'd transferred his funds and opened an account, no paperwork had been sent to him.
The customer stated that he wanted to receive these documents. He had emailed twice and left a voicemail without receiving a response. When he finally was able to get a response, he was just told that the company was very busy and was working as fast as they could. He said that he didn't consider this a valid excuse for a transaction that should have been easily handled.
Birch Gold Group responded about two weeks later to say that they had solved the problem before ever being informed of the complaint. They explained that a receipt had been mailed through USPS. The company had emailed the customer on the same day he made contact to inform him that his receipt was in the mail.
When the customer called Birch Gold Group asking about his receipt, the company emailed him a digital copy.
The customer responded to say that he was unhappy with this response because he'd had to ask several times for a response. This doesn't seem accurate, as Birch Gold Group got back to him on the same day he made contact, both times he reached out.
In addition, the customer said that his silver purchases hadn't been itemized. There was just a single line indicating that he'd bought $17,000 worth of silver. He wanted a full itemization of every single silver item.
Birch Gold Group said that they'd reached out privately to find out which items he wanted itemized, along with what data he wanted included on the paperwork. They also provided the BBB with copies of their email exchanges, which showed that the customer had received a copy of his invoice the same day he filed the original complaint.
In this case, it truly seems like Birch Gold Group did everything they could. They even included the email evidence to back it up. This might have just been a case of a customer looking for reasons to get angry.
Pros & Cons of Birch Gold Group
Birch Gold Group is one of the top companies offering precious metals IRAs. No matter whether you're investing for retirement or for a personal portfolio, they have tons of precious metals available. They also have a strong commitment to customer service that goes above and beyond.
Almost all of the reviews of the company online are positive. There are several hundred positive reviews spread across a variety of third party websites. By comparison, the BBB has only a handful of complaints, all of which the company has made a strong effort to resolve. They've even provided solutions in cases where the customer was objectively wrong.
Their attention to detail is impressive, and they have tons of educational resources available online. Since their investment minimum is relatively low, they're more accessible to beginning investors than some of the competition.
All in all, we do recommend working with Birch Gold Group. The only potential drawback is that a few of the other competitors might be just a tiny bit more streamlined in their account setup processes.
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