IRA Approved Precious Metals

IRA approved precious metals hero image

Not all precious metals are created equal. This is especially true in the eyes of the IRS, which only allows certain precious metals of the highest standards to be invested in an IRA.

When it comes to precious metals, the IRS allows gold, silver, platinum, and palladium to be included as investments inside an IRA. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the gold nugget you found washed up on the beach can be stashed away in your retirement account.

First, you need a special type of retirement account, called a self-directed IRA.

Second, the IRS has restrictions on the types of precious metal coins and bars that qualify for retirement savings. (But don’t worry, the list of IRS-approved precious metals includes some of the most in-demand bullion and proof coins in the market.)

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and well-known IRA-approved coins.

American Gold Eagle (bullion)

American Gold Eagle obverseThe American Gold Eagle bullion coin almost immediately became the world’s best-selling precious metal coin after it was released in 1986. These coins stand out from other U.S. minted coins in that they are the only bullion coins legislated by the U.S. government for purity, content, and weight. Furthermore, even the source of gold is legislated — thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, eagles must be made from U.S.-mined gold.

This popular bullion coin is made of “crown gold,” an alloy of 91.67% (22 karat) gold, 3% silver and 5.33% copper. Crown gold is much less prone to wear than softer coins 0.95+ fine.

The gold eagle depicts Lady Liberty elegantly on the front, with a family of bald eagles depicted on the reverse. The Gold Eagle comes in four denominations: 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz, with their face values ranging between $5-$50, providing precious metals investors another way to diversify their gold savings.

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf

Issued by the Government of Canada and produced by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf bullion coin has a face value ranging from 1 CAD – 50 CAD (depending on the year) and offers weights between 1/10 troy oz to 1 troy oz. Compared to other gold coins, the Maple Leaf has one of the highest purity levels.

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf obverseFirst struck in 1979, the Maple Leaf has been a mainstay in Canadian coinage and investments over the decades. The coin features an image of Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada, on the front, and the national symbol of Canada, the maple leaf on the reverse side.

The RCM minted these coins in .999 purity until 1982 when they improved upon this already impressive purity level to .9999. The mint has even produced special editions of the Maple Leaf at .99999 (“five nines”) purity, which are highly sought after by investors and collectors alike.

The Royal Canadian Mint has always ensured exceptional quality and security on its bullion coins. Over the past several years, the RCM has introduced new features — like laser-micro-engraved textured material and radial lines — which allow buyers to easily verify the authenticity and protect against counterfeiting.

Canadian Twin Maples (silver and gold)

The Twin Maples coin is minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in both gold and silver. The gold Twin Maples was first struck in 2017 at 1/4 oz and features Queen Elizabeth II on the front, and two maple leafs on its reverse side. Featuring a frosted background and reverse proof finish, the Twin Maples is a stunning coin with intricate details. This coin also comes with the same .9999 purity as other RCM coins.

The silver Twin Maples bears a resemblance to its gold counterpart with some interesting differences. The silver Twin Maples started in 2017 as 1 oz coin but was transitioned to a 2 oz coin at 10 CAD face value later the same year due to its popularity. This coin features both Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and two maples on the reverse as seen in the gold Twin Maples. The RCM included anti-counterfeiting measures including radial lines and micro-engraving for the coin’s design as well.

Other approved coins

While the aforementioned coins are some of the most popular to include in an IRA, they aren’t the only coinage available for this purpose. The following coins are also IRS-approved for purchase in your IRA account:

Even though the IRS has restrictions on which precious metals coins can be invested in an IRA, there is still a diverse selection of physical coins investors can choose from to diversify their collection and retirement portfolio.

Bars and Rounds

It’s not just precious metal coins that are an option for your IRA, bars and rounds are also available to further diversify the precious metals in your retirement account. These products come in a variety of sizes and weights.

Bars and rounds are mostly produced by private refiners and are not considered legal tender. However, they are sometimes made by Government mints, for example, the Perth Mint of Australia mints both gold and silver bars.

Bars and rounds are often produced with the logo of the manufacturer, weight, and purity stamped into them. The IRS sets minimum purity requirements on bars and rounds (and all precious metals) for investment into an IRA, as seen in the chart below. So, be sure to check the purity and with your IRA custodian before you think about including bars and rounds in your IRA.

Available bars and rounds for your IRA include:

IRA-eligibility requirements

In order to be considered IRA-eligible, precious metals coins must meet certain standards. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 expanded the standards of what could be included in an IRA based on the requirements below. Also, a self-directed IRA (SDIRA) account must be used for precious metals investments. An SDIRA gives the account holder greater control over their retirement account and allows for a wider array of investment options than a conventional IRA.

Note: The only exception to these requirements is the American Gold Eagle Bullion Coin — at 91.67% purity — as it is the only bullion coin that has its weight, content, and purity guaranteed by the U.S. government. The Krugerrand, the famous South African gold coin, is not eligible for IRAs even though it uses a similar crown gold alloy.


What? Standard
All IRA-eligible coins
  • Produced by certified refiner, assayer, or manufacturer
IRA-eligible Bullion coins
  • Free from damage
  • Brilliant, uncirculated condition
IRA-eligible Proof coins
  • Encapsulated in original mint packaging
  • Excellent condition
  • Includes certificate of authenticity
IRA-eligible Gold
  • Minimum 99.5% purity
IRA-eligible Silver
  • Minimum 99.9% purity
IRA-eligible Platinum
  • Minimum 99.95% purity
IRA-eligible Palladium
  • Minimum 99.95% purity


To learn how to open an SDIRA and save for retirement with physical precious metals, contact a Birch Gold Group Specialist today.