A self-directed Roth IRA is much like a regular Roth IRA, but offers more flexibility as far as what you can invest in. Whereas a regular Roth will only let you invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and real-estate investment trusts, a self-directed Roth lets you invest in a greater variety of investment options.
If you’re looking for a brokerage to open a self-directed traditional or Roth IRA account, consider these 8 companies below. We evaluated what they were good at, who they were best for, and everything else you need to know.
1. Entrust Group: Best Overall
Entrust has 40 years of experience in self-directed IRA’s and Roth IRA’s. You can invest in real estate, precious metals, private placements, LLC’s, startups, hedge funds, land trusts, energy, oil, or notes. The website offers some education and a step-by-step guide on how to get started. They also have a page detailing the fees, so that everything is upfront and there won’t be any surprises. All of the investments are pre-vetted, so you know you won’t accidentally invest in a scam. They don’t offer checkbook IRA’s, though.
2. RA Financial: Best for Compliance
If you’re worried about your self-directed Roth or IRA violating the IRS’s rules, consider IRA Financial. They have tax professionals in-house specifically to make sure everything is up to snuff, and they offer an IRS audit guarantee. They have a free app and you can start the process online. A custodian-controlled self-directed IRA costs nothing to set up, and only $360 a year to maintain. They don’t have a minimum balance requirement, either.
3. American IRA: Best for Low Minimum Balance
Their CEO has been investing in self-directed IRA’s since 1982, so he knows whereof he speaks. They have one annual administration fee, and the fee doesn’t go up depending on how much you have in assets. The minimum balance is just $750.
4. Alto IRA: Best for Transparent Pricing
Alto partners with angel investing funds, crypto exchanges, real estate companies, and other alternative investments to give you a variety of choices. The fee structure is a little different: you’ll pay a $49 activation fee, which is refunded after you fund the account. The monthly administration fee is a maximum of $30, depending on how much money is in your account. Transaction fees are up to $150.
5. Madison Trust: Best for Beginning Self-Directed Investors
If you’re new to self-directed IRA’s and Roth’s, Madison Trust might be for you. They have specialists to guide you, so you don’t have to figure everything out yourself. They have flat rate fees which are easy to understand. They have great reviews, even on Yelp, which is notorious for collecting bad reviews.
6. Equity Trust: Best for Diversification
Equity Trust has been around since 1974 and has a track record of success with self-directed IRA’s and Roth IRA’s. Their website has lots of educational content, including case studies. They have more than 400 specialists to help assist you with investment vetting and other questions you might have. It’s $50 to set up an account, and administration fees are between $205 and $2,150, depending on how much money is in your account. Transactions are free.
7. Broad Financial: Best for Checkbook self-directed IRA’s
A checkbook self-directed IRA has higher fees but allows you more freedom. You can make investments with your debit card, as opposed to contacting the custodian and filling out paperwork. Broad Financial started out as a real estate company, so they have some in-depth knowledge about real estate investments. They have other investments, too, though. They also offer free lifetime access to experts, and a 30-day money back guarantee.
8. uDirect IRA Services LLC: Best for Real Estate Investments
A lot of self-directed IRA firms offer real estate as an investment, but that’s been uDirect’s focus since the beginning. You can invest in anything allowed by the IRS, but they’re best at real estate. It’s $50 to set up an account, there’s a $275 annual fee, a $35 transaction fee (the first six are free) and storage fees if you invest in precious metals ($8-$18 a month).
What to Consider in a Self-Directed IRA Company?
- What investment options they offer: Companies vary in what types of investments they offer. If you’re interested in life settlements, make sure your company offers that as an option before you commit to anything.
- Fees: Fees vary by a lot, and the structure of the fees can be different from company to company as well. Some charge a set-up fee, some charge based on your account balance, some charge a flat rate. Be sure the fee structure works for you.
- Customer Service: It’s definitely a plus if you know you can get someone on the phone to ask questions or get clarification. No company will give you investment advice, but some are better are facilitating a smooth experience than others.
- Checkbook control or custodian? Not every company offers checkbook control self-directed IRA’s, so if it’s important to you to write a check or use a debit card to make an investment, make sure your company has this feature. The trade-off is that the fees are higher.
If you’re interested in a self-directed traditional IRA or Roth IRA account, you’ll need to do your homework. Yes, there are a lot of investment opportunities in a self-directed IRA, but there’s also a lot of risk. Depending on how much you invest, it might be a good idea to hire a tax advisor to make sure you don’t violate any of the IRS’s rules.
Also, if you’ll be dependent on this money in retirement, you might want to invest in a regular traditional or Roth IRA first. The returns on these investment approach 10%, which is a decent gain on your retirement money. A self-directed traditional or Roth IRA may have the potential for big gains, but there is also the potential for huge losses. Self-directed Roth IRA’s work for high-income people who can tolerate the risks of losing money.