Who are the best self-directed IRA Companies?

Who Are The Best Self-Directed IRA Companies?

This is a question many people ask themselves when they decide to start investing in assets such as real estate or precious metals under a self-directed IRA. At this point, you should have an understanding of the different types of self-directed IRAs and how each type can be adapted to your investment needs. But when it comes to knowing who are the best self-directed IRA companies, that requires additional consideration and understanding.

In this article, we look at the top 20 points to consider when looking at the best self-directed gold IRA companies.

The Top 20 Points to Consider When Choosing The Best Self-Directed IRA Company

#1) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company for Your Needs – Expertise is Key

The best company will have a wide range of expertise including being knowledgeable about the process of setting up your LLC to accept investments. They should also be able to help establish the custodian relationship between your new self-directed IRA LLC and the custodian designated by your current IRA provider.  The best company should have an excellent ‘track record’ which you can review online at sites such as www.trustlink.org. The Trust Link site provides daily updates about complaints against businesses that are registered with them, along with details on how those complaints are resolved.

#2) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Have Low or No Fees

Ideally, you want a company that charges no annual fees, nor set up fees – only charging their normal fees for any work done for you on an hourly basis, which is discussed in more detail below under “Service Rates”. Any other type of fee would be considered ‘Paid Twice’. You might ask yourself how it is possible to receive all this for free? – companies can charge fixed monthly rates if they wish (but trust me, many don’t).

#3) Look for Long-Standing, Reputable Companies with Successful Clients

The companies that have been around the longest are most likely to be reputable.  We recommend choosing a company that has at least five years in business and successfully manages at least one other self-directed IRA LLC.

#4) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Help You Avoid Common Pitfalls

At a minimum the best company should be providing advice on any transaction you should avoid – so they are looking out for your best interest. They should also provide regular updates to you on investments outside of their expertise, where they will need to pass the information along to another professional or ultimately decline taking responsibility for investment.

#5) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Accept ALL Types of IRAs

Typically this means Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and SEP IRAs.  The company should also be willing to work with you on setting up a Solo 401(k) and/or inherited (non-spousal) IRA.  This is very important because there are some self-directed IRA companies that will not accept certain types of accounts or they may turn down your application if the account has too much in it at the time of opening.

#6) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Help You Stay Out Of Jail

One area where there is little question about what people can and cannot do with their self-directed IRA is the area of ‘prohibited transactions’. It is against the law to use your self-directed IRA funds for personal use, such as using your IRA funds to buy a car.  The best self-directed IRA company will ensure you and your account stay out of trouble by following all prohibited transaction rules and guidelines.

#7) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Provide You With All Necessary Forms & Guidance

As part of their service, they should provide you with every form (and guidance as to which forms) that you need to fill out.  Listed below are some of the documents we are referring to – many other companies require these be filled out multiple times for each investment.

Form 5498 – IRA Contribution Information, which you will receive by January 31 every year.  This form lists your contributions made to your self-directed IRA for the previous calendar year.

IRS Form 1099-R – Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., which you will receive in January of each year for distributions that were taken from your account during the prior tax year.

Form 1099-INT – Interest Income if interest was paid to your account during the prior tax year.   Other possible forms you should be receiving are IRS Forms 1098 (Mortgage Interest Statement), 8949 (Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets), and 5498-ESA (Coverdell ESA Contribution Information).

#8) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Provide Investment Guidance

A big part of what the best self-directed IRA company does is provide investment guidance.  They should be able to advise you with your investments in real estate, businesses, or even cryptocurrency.  For each type of asset class, they should provide you with an education on the asset class so you can make informed decisions yourself when it comes time to decide what to invest in.

#9) Ensure There Is A Solid Relationship Between You And Your Accountant Or Tax Professional

Another aspect that is important for all future decisions is ensuring that there is a solid relationship between you and your tax professional.  This is often the same person as your investment advisor, but not necessarily so.  Regardless of who it is – one reason you picked them should be that they understand taxation laws regarding self-directed IRA accounts and investments (and related investments).

#10) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Not Be The First Time You Have Ever Heard Their Name

There are over 100 self-directed IRA companies, each with its own marketing campaigns.  Due to this fact and due to the lack of regulation in the industry – there are a lot of “fly by night” type companies out there looking for an easy buck.  Do your research and choose wisely – your retirement is on the line!

#11) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Not Ask You For A Deposit Or Fee Up Front

Any self-directed IRA company that asks for a money order, cashier’s check, or wire transfer upfront should immediately raise red flags.  These payment methods are not used because they can be easily reversed after they have been sent.  A reputable company will provide you with their bank routing number and account number so that you may send your tax-deductible contribution via check as normal.

#12) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Have An Office In Your State Or Nearby States

If possible, choose a self-directed IRA company that has offices in or nearby your state.  This will help you to have a face-to-face conversation should the need arise, and it is also helpful when having questions answered or submitting forms.

#13) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Be Able To Provide References Of Investors Who Have Received Services From Them In The Past

A reputable self-directed IRA company will provide references of past clients without any problems.  Make sure to talk to at least five people who have opened an IRA with this company and who are in a similar situation as yours – for example, someone investing in real estate versus cryptocurrency.  The more references you can speak with, the better (but 5 minimum).

#14) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Not Let You Choose Where Your Contributions Go To Each Year

Any self-directed IRA company that lets you choose where your contributions go each year is setting itself up for possible failure.  If anything, the IRS requires a certain percentage of your annual contributions toward retirement accounts and other types to be used toward investments within an IRA account (real estate and tangible personal property such as gold and silver).

#15) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Have A Solid Reputation Amongst Other Industry Professionals And Creditors/Lenders

It is important to have a solid network of contacts in real estate and in cryptocurrency.  It can be helpful having someone in your corner when it comes to legalities, tax laws, and future purchases.  A reputable self-directed IRA company will have no problem providing you with names of industry professionals that work within certain capacities.

#16) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Not Try To Sell You More Than One Product Or Service At A Time

Some self-directed IRA companies may try to sell you more than one type of investment or product/service at a time – such as real estate and cryptocurrency.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if this is the case then make sure that their fees are split accordingly so there isn’t any overlap or extra charges for doing business together.

#17) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Be A Member Of An Industry Regulatory Body

Self-directed IRA companies may be members of the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) or some other regulatory body.  This is a great sign that they understand their industry and are willing to abide by certain standards in order to remain an active member.

#18) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Have Successfully Managed And Opened Dozens Of Self-Directed IRAs

Any self-directedIRA company that has had success managing over 25 clients’ accounts should have no problem with your account.  They will be able to provide you with examples of IRAs they have set up in the past, as well as a list of verifiable references upon request.

#19) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Have An Online Platform Set Up For Your Use – But They Won’t Push It Too Hard

If a self-directed IRA company has its own website then this is a bonus.  It puts you into contact with them from the beginning and may help to build trust from the offset.  However, if they try to push this advantage too hard by making it seem like it is mandatory for your business (when opening an account), then consider looking elsewhere because there should be no pressure at all to do so.

#20) The Best Self-Directed IRA Company Will Offer A Free Consultation With An Industry Professional

If you are about to open up an account with any self-directed IRA company then make sure to ask them if they will offer a free consultation with an industry professional.  This way, you will have the opportunity to speak with someone objective about what you are wanting to accomplish.


The best self-directed IRA companies allow investors the greatest amount of flexibility when considering where their contributions go each year – as well as where future contributions should be made. These types of companies also strive for excellence in their relationships with both existing and prospective clients by offering help before, during and after transactions are completed.

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