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Gold is a popular pick for precious metals IRAs, but if you’re looking for something a little more affordable, consider silver. Today’s gold prices hover around $2,000 an ounce, but silver is far more wallet-friendly at an average of $24 per ounce. It’s a good entry-level metal if you’re just getting started with precious metal IRAs.
Not all silver products qualify, though. Below, learn about IRA-eligible silver and how to buy this precious metal for your IRA.
What Is IRA-Approved Silver?
- Silver coins and bars held in an IRA must be at least 99.9% pure (a purity grade of 0.999 or higher)
- You must choose a qualified custodian to serve as the trustee of your IRA.
- You must store your silver in an IRS-approved depository. That means you cannot keep IRA-purchased silver coins and bars at home.
What Silver Products Are Approved for a Silver IRA?
You can find hundreds of silver coins from all over the world on the internet, but only some of them are eligible to hold in an IRA.
Popular IRA-Approved Silver Coins
Here are a few of the most popular picks for IRA-eligible silver coins.
American Silver Eagle
The American Silver Eagle serves as the official silver bullion coin of the U.S. The United States Mint first struck this coin in 1986. It has a weight of one troy ounce, a face value of $1, and a purity rating of 99.9%.
The obverse side of the coin features Lady Liberty. On the reverse side, you’ll see a depiction of a heraldic eagle.
Silver Morgan Dollar
The Morgan dollar has a rich history that makes the coin prized among collectors. The U.S. Mint first offered this coin from 1878 to 1904 with a silver content of 90%. In 2021, the Mint re-released the coin with a purity of 99.9%.
The Morgan dollar features an image of an eagle on one side and an effigy of Lady Liberty on the other.
Austrian Silver Philharmonic
The Austrian Silver Philharmonic launched in 2008, nearly two decades after the debut of the Gold Philharmonic coin in 1989. All Silver Philharmonic coins feature one troy ounce of 0.9999 pure silver.
As with the Gold Philharmonic, the silver variety features an image of the Musikverein pipe organ on one side and a depiction of several musical instruments on the other.
Australian Silver Koala
Launched by the Perth Mint in 2007, the Silver Koala features an image of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a depiction of a koala on the other. The koala design changes slightly every year.
When the Perth Mint introduced the coin, it had a silver content of .999. Starting in 2018, the coin contained .9999 pure silver, a purity that it maintains to this day.
Canadian Silver Maple Leaf
The Royal Canadian Mint introduced the Silver Maple Leaf in 1998 at a face value of $5. One side features a maple leaf design, and the other features a design of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Canadian Mint has offered several variations and special editions of the coin over the years. These have included 20th-anniversary coins, commemorative coins for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and colorized designs.
Mexican Silver Libertad
Introduced in 1982, the Mexican Silver Libertad was the first-ever silver bullion coin produced for investors. The coin is available in several weights, ranging from 1/20th of an ounce to one kilogram.
The design has changed slightly over the years. One side of the coin features the Mexican golden eagle, and the other is a depiction of Winged Victory.
Popular IRA-Approved Silver Bars
If you prefer to invest in bars rather than coins, look for these silver bars.
Johnson Matthey Silver Bars
Precious metals company Johnson Matthey launched these silver bars in the 1980s. They quickly became popular and sought-after, as the company didn’t produce enough to meet demand.
Modern Johnson Matthey silver bars contain 99.9% pure silver. You can recognize these bars by their lack of a serial number.
Sunshine Silver Bars
Hailing from Sunshine Minting in Idaho, these bars are available in 1-ounce, 10-ounce, and 100-ounce varieties. All are 99.9% pure, which means they’re IRA-eligible silver.
PAMP Suisse Silver Bars
PAMP Suisse silver bars are beloved for their beauty and intricate design. They feature highly detailed artwork, a lustrous finish, and a serial number that guarantees each bar’s authenticity.
A-Mark Silver Bars
A-Mark launched in 1965 and has developed a stellar reputation in the precious metals industry. It offers 99.9% pure 10-ounce silver bars.
Walking Liberty Silver Bar
Available in one-, five-, and ten-ounce weights, the Walking Liberty bar features the same design as the iconic Walking Liberty Half Dollar.
What Silver Products Are Not Allowed for an IRA?
Any silver products below 99.9% purity are not allowed for IRAs. Additionally, you may not hold proof coins, graded numismatics, or slabbed silver coins in an IRA.
The following are a few silver products that are ineligible for IRAs:
- British Silver Britannia: First minted in 1987, the British Silver Britannia is renowned for its luster and beautiful design. The coin’s purity is only .958, though, so it’s not eligible for IRAs.
- Swiss Silver Franc: Swiss silver francs feature a gorgeous minimalistic design but only have a silver content of .835. Still, they’re highly prized by collectors.
- New Zealand Silver Kiwi: This coin boasts an image of the adorable kiwi bird for which New Zealand is known. The coins have a silver content of .999 but are deemed “collectible,” so they’re ineligible for IRAs.
Advantages of Including Silver in an IRA
Interested in buying silver for individual retirement accounts? It’s a smart choice that comes with quite a few benefits. By purchasing silver for an IRA, you can invest in precious metals without having to physically hold them yourself.
Buying silver also allows you to diversify your portfolio. Silver has many uses, so it’s unlikely to lose value completely the way stocks can.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is the tax breaks you’ll enjoy. For traditional IRAs, the IRS doesn’t tax you on contributions in the year you made them. And if you choose a Roth IRA, you won’t owe taxes on your capital gains.
Considerations Before Investing in IRA-Eligible Silver
Silver IRAs have a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- Silver prices can be volatile, unlike the price of gold, which tends to remain fairly stable. On the upside, gold is much more expensive, so buying silver has a lower barrier to entry.
- IRA account fees can be expensive. You’ll have to pay for setup and maintenance, as well as annual storage fees and insurance. Some IRA custodians charge a percentage of your holdings, while others charge a flat rate per year.
- Silver IRAs don’t generate income in the form of interest or dividends like other investments do. If you aim to make money from your IRA, silver may not be the best choice.
- If you withdraw from your IRA before you turn 59 and a half, the IRS will charge you an early withdrawal penalty.
- Per IRS rules, you cannot store IRA-purchased silver at home. If you do and the IRS finds out, you will likely have to pay additional taxes and penalties.
How To Invest in IRA-Approved Silver
Opening a silver IRA is different from setting up a traditional IRA. Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a self-directed IRA custodian. The IRS requires you to work with a custodian to purchase alternative assets, such as real estate and precious metals. Your custodian can be a trust company, bank, or any other entity approved by the IRS.
- Fund your account. You can do so with cash, but many people prefer to fund precious metals IRAs with an existing IRA or 401(k). Your options include a direct transfer or a rollover. With a direct transfer, you request the transfer of funds from your current IRA to the new one. If you have an employer-sponsored IRA, you may want to choose the rollover option instead.
- Select a precious metals dealer. To avoid scams, look for a dealer that belongs to a group, such as the Professional Numismatics Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets, or American Numismatic Association. Your custodian may have partnerships with precious metals dealers, but do your research before buying to make sure they’re legitimate.
- Choose your IRA-eligible silver products. Popular IRS-approved silver for retirement accounts include the American Silver Eagle and the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf. Make sure your desired products meet IRS purity standards before buying.
- Select a precious metals depository, such as Delaware Depository. You must store your silver in an approved depository as the IRS doesn’t allow you to keep IRA-purchased silver at home. Your custodian may suggest a depository, but you’re free to choose whichever you like.
- Finish the transaction. Your custodian will buy silver on your behalf, and then the dealer will ship it to the depository for storage.