Conducting a 401K to gold IRA rollover is a relatively simple process, but you need to be aware of the implications for yourself from an investment perspective so that you don't suffer any penalties or delays.


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Can I Move A 401k To A Gold IRA Without Penalty?

The answer is YES and NO.

Yes, if you are no longer working for the company that provided the 401K, and no if you are still working for the company that provided the 401K.

Penalty Free Gold IRA Rollover

The IRS allows you to move retirement funds one time per year without penalty but only if the 401(k) account is from a previous employer. In this case you can conduct a tax and penalty free 401k rollover to precious metals (gold, silver, platinum and palladium in most cases but not all). See here for more details about what a gold IRA is.

The reasoning behind this is so that you can purchase physical gold using your tax-advantaged savings, and of course, keep your investment within a safe environment.

Non-Penalty Free Gold IRA Rollover

If your 401K is with your current employer, then this is considered a non-eligible 401k and the only way you can do any investment outside of the plan, is if the plan itself has a facility for self-directed investment.

you would have to discuss this with your organisation and/or your financial planner to determine the possibilities and options available to you. It may be that you need to create an alternate investment vehicle instead of doing a rollover.

IRS 60 Day Rule

Another factor to be aware of is the 60 day IRS rule. This rule states that you must transfer your investment within 60 days of taking a distribution otherwise the money will be considered as income and you will be taxed accordingly (at your prevailing tax rate). In addition, if you are under 59 and a half you will incur a 10% withdrawal fee on the distributed fees.

To ensure this doesn't happen, rollover your investment instead into a precious metals IRA and you will avoid the risk of triggering the 60 day IRS rule. Which leads to the question...

Is A 401K Rollover The Same As A Transfer?

Rollover and transfer are often interchanged but they are in fact two different terms and you need to be aware of the distinction. This distinction relates to whether the Investor takes personal possession of their investment funds or not.

A 401K rollover is a DIRECT move from one account trustee into a gold IRA trustee without the investment products coming into the possession of the investor. A transfer is where the investor takes possession (sometimes called a distribution) and then makes a new transaction to deposit the funds into another tax-advantaged account.

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4 Step Gold IRA Rollover Guide

There are 4 main steps to rolling over your 401k into a gold IRA investment account. Within those 4 basic steps there are sub-steps to take but they will depend on which company you choose for your investment, and your own particular circumstances. The 4 basic steps however are: 

  • Choose a Gold IRA Company (see a review of 3 top gold companies here)
  • Open a Gold IRA Account
  • Conduct the rollover from your 401k
  • Choose the products to be held in the investment account

Choosing the gold IRA account is something you should do with the help of your investment advisor, although I have provided a link to four top companies who offer these products so that you can at least begin your analysis. 

Take the time to compare them against each other. Once you select your company of choice, you will be guided through the rest of the process by one of their account specialists. You will have plenty of time to consult and make decisions.

IRS Approved Precious Metals

Self-directed IRA's are governed by U.S. Code 408 (Individual Retirement Accounts) which specifies that only certain forms of precious metals are to be held in an IRS approved gold IRA account. In terms of the gold products only, the following list provides a few general investment guidelines:

  • Gold must be sourced from a national government mint or approved refiner
  • Gold coins in one, one-half, one-quarter and one-tenth ounce sizes are permitted
  • Fractional ownership of coins and bars is not allowed
  • Gold coins, rounds and bars must be 99.5 percent pure

Your investment specialist and/or advisor will be able to direct you to the products that best suit your investment goals. This includes not only gold products, but silver, palladium and platinum as well, of which the IRS has approved and non-approved types.

401k to Gold IRA Rollover Birch Gold

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Types Of Gold IRA Investment Accounts

Traditional Gold IRA

Roth Gold IRA


  • Tax-deferred account
  • Contributions not taxed
  • Contributions tax deductible
  • IRS sets contribution limits
  • Taxed on distributions
  • After-tax savings account
  • No up-front tax deductions on contributions
  • No taxes on distributions
  • Available to business owners, self-employed
  • Contributions not taxed
  • Contributions tax deductible
  • Higher contribution limits
  • Taxed on distributions

401k To Gold IRA Rollover Pros And Cons

A list of the benefits and risks of gold IRA's


  • Taxation benefits depending on Traditional or Roth IRA  
  • A well-known long-term hold investment
  • They are self-directed so you have good control
  • It acts as a store of wealth and a hedge against your other investments
  • Its a way to diversify your investment portfolio
  • Variety of investment assets available
  • You can take advantage of annual contributions


  • Higher fees for buying, storing, insuring, transportation and custodian fees  
  • Custodian/dealers must handle all transaction. You can't invest existing gold directly yourself
  • No interest, dividends or income. Profit advantages come with sale (tax on capital gain)
  • Mandated minimum distributions must be taken once you reach 72
  • Precious metals are an illiquid asset, so the buy/sell market is slower

401K To Gold IRA Rollover Conclusion

In this guide we looked at how to go from a 401k to gold rollover account and some of the potential pitfalls you may face in doing so. We looked at IRS penalties, the difference between a rollover and a transfer and some of the IRS approved investment ytpes that a gold IRA account can hold.

We also walked through a quick 4 step approach to conducting the rollover and what you should do at each step. As mentioned however, there are a number of additional steps required but these will be determined by your own personal circumstances.

We also highlighted some pros and cons and pointed you towards some beginning company research you can undertake to make yourself more familiar with available gold ira investment company options.

These companies are considered the top operators in their field and each one has a variety of products and services that will help you to make a more informed decision. See our own top choice below.

* No information in this article is intended as financial or tax advice. Consult a professional advisor to understand the imlications of ira investments on your own financial plan.

About the Author Aaron Parker

Aaron is an SEO, a precious metals investor, a messenger marketer and a long time high ticket affiliate marketer who began his "career" in the pre-floppy disk days of the mid 80's. He's seen it all and done it all and is still learning. His driving ambition is to help as many people and businesses as possible to prosper and profit.

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