- Crypto IRAs allow investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies using their retirement savings.
- Benefits of crypto IRAs include portfolio diversification and tax-sheltered gains.
- Investors require a self-directed individual retirement account (SDIRA) to invest in cryptocurrencies, as traditional IRAs do not provide access to digital assets.
Cryptocurrency has massive potential for growth, which makes it an attractive asset class to add to tax-sheltered retirement accounts.
Best 6 Crypto IRA Companies 2023
Recently, crypto IRA custodians have started to gain more popularity and finding the right one is key to adding crypto to your retirement plans. When considering a crypto IRA custodian, you should consider several factors before making a choice. These include fees and pricing, supported cryptos, IRA options, and account minimums. Below is an analysis of our top crypto IRA providers:
- Alto CryptoIRA: Best For Selection Of Cryptocurrencies
- iTrustCapital: Best For The Cost-Conscious
- BitIRA: Best For Security
- TradeStation: Best For Low Fees
- Coin IRA: Best For Beginners
- BitcoinIRA: Best For Ease-Of-Use
Alto’s CryptoIRA platform provides the most comprehensive selection of cryptocurrencies out of our three IRA platforms. Customers can choose from over 200 cryptocurrencies, including the juggernauts like BTC and ETH but also newer coins like $APE, $FIL, and $GTC. The platform’s fee structure is light and straightforward, with only three types of fees to be aware of: a 1% transaction fee, a $50 account closure fee, and a $25 outbound wire transfer fee.
The CryptoIRA portion of the Alto platform is dedicated just to cryptocurrencies. While some other IRAs allow the custody of other types of assets alongside crypto, Alto’s CryptoIRA accounts support only cryptocurrencies, and a separate IRA will have to be opened by clients if they wish to hold other assets. CryptoIRA makes up a large part of Alto’s business, with reportedly over $1 billion dollars in crypto assets in their custody.
iTrustCapital is a market leader in the crypto IRA space. Their platform primarily focuses on cryptocurrencies while making a small addition for silver and gold bullion that can be bought and held in the same IRA account as your crypto. iTrustCapital waives monthly retirement account fees, and they continue to be a great choice for the cost-conscious.
Compared to other crypto retirement account providers, iTrustCapital has a fairly limited selection of cryptocurrencies, but they’re diligently adding support for more tokens over time.
BitIRA offers IRAs with dollar-for-dollar insurance coverage and secures customers’ funds in guarded offline cold storage, making it a top choice for security. It uses two storage providers, Equity Trust, and the Preferred Trust Company.
This platform has steep fees compared to many rival IRA platforms. You must pay a $50 setup fee, an annual maintenance charge of $195, and 0.05% of the assets in your IRA as storage fees every month. It also has a pretty high minimum of $5,000.
TradeStation lets you buy cryptocurrencies for your IRA with relatively low fees. It only charges transaction fees for crypto IRAs. You can also roll over funds from your previous employer-sponsored IRA into TradeStation.
TradeStation is a broad trading platform, so it’s not only cryptocurrencies it lets you add to your IRA. You can add stocks and options, and you can have multiple IRAs if you wish. TradeStation is owned by the Monex Group, a Japanese financial services company, and cryptocurrency accounts for a great deal of Monex’s profit. Monex owns Coincheck, a popular cryptocurrency exchange.
Coin IRA provides a lot of educational resources for people not familiar with cryptocurrencies. It also offers in-person customer support to users, delivering a stellar user experience.
Despite its name, this platform also offers non-IRA trading accounts. You can create one in as little as five minutes and trade with relatively low fees.
BitcoinIRA is a market leader in crypto IRA services that enable Americans to add cryptocurrencies to their retirement accounts safely and tax-effectively. Over 170,000 users have been able to put Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their retirement plans since the Los Angeles-based startup was founded in 2015.
The platform is easy to use and allows customers to roll over their existing IRAs. Signing up takes only a few minutes, and users can trade over 60 cryptocurrencies round-the-clock online or through the Bitcoin IRA mobile app.
There is no maximum investment limit, but a $3,000 minimum initial deposit is required. Additionally, customers can open IRA EarnTM interest accounts with a minimum investment of $10,000 and earn up to 6% interest on Bitcoin, Ether, and US dollars. Finally, there is not much fee information available online, instead, Bitcoin IRA directs clients to chat with a company representative to get the latest fees.
Compare Crypto IRAs 2023
|Platform||Fees/Pricing||Supported Tokens||IRA Options||Account Minimum||Custodied By|
|Alto CryptoIRA||1% per crypto transaction||BTC|
+ over 200 more
|n/a||Cold storage via Coinbase|
|iTrustCapital||1% per crypto transaction||BTC|
+ 26 more
|$1,000||Cold storage via Coinbase|
|BitIRA||Setup fee: $50|
Annual maintenance fee: $195
Monthly storage fee: 0.05%
|$5,000||Cold storage via Equity Trust Company and Preferred Trust Company|
|TradeStation||Trading Fee: $1+ 0.50%||AAVE|
|None||Cold storage via BitGo|
|Coin IRA||Buy trades: 1.25%|
Sell trades: 1%
|Traditional||$5,000||Cold storage via Equity Trust Company|
|Bitcoin IRA||Account set-up fee: 3.99% – 5.99%|
Trading fee: 2%
+ 59 more
Employer Plan 401(k)s
|$3,000||Cold storage via BitGo|
Crypto IRAs Overview
As cryptocurrencies are becoming more mainstream, many prudent investors are considering incorporating this asset into their retirement plans. The boom in crypto investing over the last few years has spurred the development of several crypto IRA providers that allow investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies as part of their retirement strategy. While retirement can be easy to put off, it’s important to get started contributing to a retirement plan early on to maximize benefits later in life.
The financially responsible among us are already familiar with the traditional retirement investment options, including 401k’s, Roth IRAs, and pension plans, among others. The advent and growth of cryptocurrencies, however, opens up a new horizon for investment. As more institutions and traders are starting to take cryptocurrencies seriously, these assets are becoming an important cornerstone of a diversified portfolio.
Like all investments, cryptocurrencies are not without their risks. It’s important for future retirees to take stock of their options and ensure they understand the risks and benefits of investing in crypto and the various types of crypto-supported IRA accounts that are available to them.
What Are Crypto IRAs, And How Do They Work?
A crypto IRA is a type of individual retirement account that includes digital assets among its holdings. Crypto IRAs are self-directed IRAs that allow investments in alternative asset classes not available in traditional IRAs. These assets include cryptocurrencies, digital assets, precious metals, and real estate.
Generally, a crypto IRA functions like a regular IRA, except that you invest your money in cryptocurrencies rather than mutual fund shares, stocks, or equities. There are also other distinctions; For instance, with a crypto IRA, investors might need to be more self-sufficient in creating and managing their accounts. This is unlike traditional IRAs, where brokerage firms usually provide a single platform for setting up an IRA and trading stocks all in one spot.
Crypto IRA Options
Per the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ruling in 2014, digital currencies are classified as personal property for tax purposes. Consequently, digital assets (like cryptocurrencies) are now compatible with digital IRA accounts. The IRS also provides legal authorization for investments in a broad range of categories beyond just cryptocurrencies. To get started with an IRA plan, select from the available options below:
|Eligibility||Annual Contribution Cap||Tax Deductible Contributions?|
|Traditional IRA||Taxable income||$6,000 for < 50 years old and $7,000 for > 50 years old.||Yes|
|SEP IRA||At least 21 years old and worked for a minimum of 3 years.||$61,000 or 25% of your compensation (whichever is smaller).||Yes|
|SIMPLE IRA||At least $5,000 in salary during two past fiscal years, or the anticipation of at least $5,000 in income in the current year.||$14,000, and an extra $3,000 for employees over 50 years old.||Yes|
|Roth IRA||Taxable income (no age limit).||$6,000 for < 50 years old and $7,000 for > 50 years old.||No|
Traditional IRAs are commonly referred to as the “elder statesman of IRAs” and are offered by several large financial institutions. These IRAs offer tax-sheltered trading within accounts, tax-sheltered contributions from your yearly income, and tax deductions for contributions in most cases. Many people choose to start a traditional IRA because it allows them to buy assets while deferring taxes and saving for retirement.
Advantages of a Traditional IRA
- Eligibility: Unlike other IRAs, the only requirement for opening a traditional IRA is to have taxable income to make contributions. Also, 2019 marked the end of age restrictions to opening an account.
- Catch-Up Provision: Traditional IRAs don’t have the most significant contribution caps available, but they provide a greater cap for investors over 50. Investors can “catch up” on contributions they may have missed earlier in life. This is great, especially if they were paying for their children, a mortgage, and other expenses.
- Tax- Deductions: Investors can deduct a specific amount of their traditional IRA contributions from their yearly taxes.
- Options for Loose Rollover: Traditional IRAs give a certain level of flexibility to change specifics for a retirement account. Understandably, circumstances vary during one’s life, and so do financial goals and saving techniques for retirement. With a traditional IRA, investors can change their retirement plan as they deem appropriate.
Traditional IRA Rules
- Annual Contribution Cap: For individuals under 50, the annual contribution cap for Traditional IRAs is $6,000. The limit goes up to $7,000 for people over 50.
- Limited Tax Deductions: The tax deduction for contributions is restricted to individuals with a Traditional IRA and a 401(k) account. For investors with both plans earning less than $68,000 annually or $109,000 if married, there are no limits to deductions under the contribution limits noted above. When it comes to tax season, those who earn above certain thresholds can only deduct a specific percentage of their contribution. If their income is high enough, they may also choose to withdraw none at all.
- Early Withdrawal Penalty: Any withdrawal made before the investor turns 59½ attracts a 10% penalty from the IRS. However, this can be avoided if the individual meets a specific hardship allowance stipulated by the IRS. It is important to remember that, with very few exceptions, this penalty applies to all retirement funds.
- Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Investors must start drawing distributions from their Traditional IRA at 72. The mandatory distribution amount also changes in size, but the IRS provides instructions on this.
The Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA allows employers to contribute to their retirement accounts and those of their employees. This type of IRA suits small business owners and freelancers.
Contributions made to this IRA option qualify for tax deductions. Taxes are deferred until the employee withdraws the funds from the investments, often at retirement. At that point, distributions from the SEP IRA are subject to income tax.
Advantages of SEP IRA
- Higher annual contribution limits: A SEP IRA’s primary benefit is its higher yearly contribution limitations. The maximum contribution from an employer (or self-employed person) is the lesser of $61,000 or 25% of wages. This is especially helpful when an employer cannot match an investor’s contributions.
- No filing or reporting: A SEP IRA is simple to establish and maintain. It also has no filing or reporting requirements, which significantly benefits businesses.
- Flexible annual contributions: A SEP IRA is a smart option if cash flow is a concern for a small business or if revenue is cyclical. This is because contributions are flexible ,and no employer is required to make annual contributions, making SEPs more straightforward for small businesses to offer to their employees.
- 100% vested employees: Employees are always 100% vested in the entire amount of their SEP IRA, which is not usually the case with other retirement plans. In other words, the SEP IRA funds are always wholly owned by the employee.
SEP IRA Rules
- Contribution Cap: A yearly SEP IRA contribution cannot exceed either 25% of the employee’s compensation or $61,000 (2022).
- Eligibility: To be eligible for a SEP IRA, employees must be at least 21 and have worked for at least three years. Finally, they must have received a minimum of $650 in compensation for the business year.
- No Catch-up: Catch-up contributions are not allowed with this IRA option.
A “Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees” (SIMPLE) IRA is ideal for businesses with less than 100 employees. This option is a tax-deferred employer-provided retirement plan that allows employees to accumulate retirement savings.
SIMPLE IRAs are less expensive, simpler, and require less paperwork than 401(k)s and other comparable retirement plans that employers can provide for their employees. This makes them appealing to small business owners who can use them as a compelling incentive to retain top personnel and maintain good employee morale.
A SIMPLE IRA allows both the small business owner and the employee to make contributions, unlike a SEP IRA, which only enables business owners to do so. This can be done using two available matching contribution plans:
- The employer matches the employees’ contributions at up to 3% of their salary.
- The employer makes a flat 2% salary contribution for employees who choose not to contribute.
Advantages of Simple IRA
- Low start-up and operating costs: Starting and running costs are pretty cheap and more uncomplicated to manage for employers than other retirement plans. When compared to other plans, SIMPLE IRAs don’t need nearly as much documentation to demonstrate compliance with nondiscrimination rules, vesting schedules, and even plan-level tax reporting.
- Tax credit for employers: Employers are entitled to a tax credit of up to $500 per year for the first three years, equal to 50% of the qualified startup expenditures.
- Mandatory employer contributions: The SIMPLE IRA requires employers to contribute to their employee’s IRA accounts each year. If the company opts for the 2% mandatory contribution option, employees don’t have to enroll in salary deferrals to receive their payment. The matched employer contribution is instantly the property of the employees and is transferable in the event of employment termination.
- Easy qualification: There are not many standards to meet. Employees can enroll in a SIMPLE IRA plan if they have earned at least $5,000 in salary during any two prior fiscal years and anticipate earning an additional $5,000 during the calendar year of eligibility.
Rules for SIMPLE IRA
- Contribution limits: Compared to many other retirement vehicles, a SIMPLE IRA has a more flexible contribution cap. Employees can contribute up to $14,000 of their income to a SIMPLE IRA, with an additional $3,000 in catch-up contributions for those over 50.
- Opening a SIMPLE IRA: To open a SIMPLE IRA, employers must complete different IRS forms depending on who chooses the financial institution to open the account. If the employer decides, then a Form 5305-SIMPLE is used. However, if the employee selects the broker, then IRS Form 5304-SIMPLE is used. Subsequently, the employee must complete a SIMPLE IRA adoption agreement to open these accounts.
- Maintaining A SIMPLE IRA: Employers must make annual contributions to the SIMPLE IRA plan after it is established unless it is terminated. They can use either of the contribution plans mentioned above.
A Roth IRA allows for tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement. According to Roth IRA regulations, investors can withdraw their money without paying federal taxes, however, they must have first held the account for five years and be aged 59½ or older.
Advantages of Roth IRA
- No RMDs: There are no minimum RMDs (required minimum distributions) for a Roth IRA.
- Eligibility: There is no age limit to Roth accounts. As long as you have earned income that qualifies, you are free to deposit funds into your account for as many years as you like.
- Employer-plan restrictions: It doesn’t matter if employees are covered by 401(k) or 403(b) plans through their work. They can still make the maximum annual contribution to a Roth IRA. This is as long as the employees’ income stays within the IRS’s permitted range.
- Tax benefits: Roth IRA offers tax-free gains from investment growth within a retirement account. It can also be left to beneficiaries, and any withdrawals they make will be tax-free.
Rules of Roth IRA
With Roth IRAs, there are several things to consider. First, they differ from traditional IRAs because donations are not tax deductible. Additionally, unlike Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs have income eligibility limits stipulated by the IRS.
Some investors believe the best way to invest in digital assets is through their retirement accounts. The potential for significant returns combined with considerable tax benefits makes this option appealing. However, traditional IRAs do not provide access to digital assets. Instead, investors require a self-directed retirement account to invest in cryptocurrencies.
As the name implies, a self-directed IRA (SDIRA) is an individual retirement account entirely managed by the account holder. Compared to conventional IRAs, investors with an SDIRA have a far more extensive range of assets to which they can allocate funds.
The main distinction between the SDIRA and conventional IRA is the choice of assets and investment options available within the account. Traditional IRAs restrict what assets are available for investors to invest in. However, an SDIRA offers access to mutual funds, ETFs, equities, and bonds in addition to a wider variety of alternative assets. The assets include gold, silver, commodities, real estate, private placement securities, and digital currencies.
It is important to note that the IRS mandates that all SDIRA accounts be protected and managed by a custodian or a financial organization. This is to protect investors by ensuring the safety of their contributions. However, unlike a financial advisor or wealth manager, a custodian only manages all the paperwork and administrative duties associated with the retirement account.
The two most popular options for crypto SDIRAs are traditional and Roth SDIRAs. Several important distinctions exist between these two choices:
- Tax Implications: A traditional SDIRA allows for pre-tax contributions deducted from income before taxes are calculated. Profits from this pre-tax investment are consequently taxed at the withdrawal time. Contributions to Roth SDIRAs, meanwhile, are made with after-tax money. The advantage of a Roth is that any earnings grow tax-free within the account, meaning withdrawals made at retirement are likewise tax-free.
- Contribution Limit: No matter your salary, contributions to traditional SDIRAs remain the same or are capped. However, the contribution limit schedule for Roth SDIRAs is graded based on income for the specific tax year. For instance, your contribution maximum would be lowered if you filed your taxes in 2021 as a single individual earning more than $125,000. You won’t be allowed to contribute to your Roth SDIRA if your income exceeds $140,000. This is a crucial factor to consider, particularly for high-income employees.
- Early Withdrawals: Investors can withdraw their contributions from a Roth SDIRA without being penalized because the money is put in after taxes. This is advantageous for folks who might require access to this money before retirement.
- Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): RMDs begin in a traditional SDIRA at age 72. At this age, investors must begin to withdraw their funds from their traditional SDIRA account. A Roth SDIRA, on the other hand, does not have RMDs, meaning investors can keep growing their account balance for as long as they like.
Risks Attached To Crypto SDIRAs
- Fees: Crypto SDIRAs usually have high costs. A fee may be charged to open, close, or even execute a trade in addition to management costs. Custodians may use asset-based or flat-fee models to determine the management charge structure. With the former, the fees charged depend on the value of assets in the account at the given time. For the latter, a single price is charged irrespective of asset value.
- Volatility: Cryptocurrencies are usually more volatile than traditional IRA holdings containing stocks and bonds. Due to this volatility, the value of a crypto SDIRA portfolio may change daily. It is therefore important to diversify assets within the SDIRA to reduce overall volatility. For short-term investors, volatility may be a problem, but long-term holders should not feel the bumps and valleys as much.
- Fraud: Investors must be wary of fraud which can be rampant among the digital assets that make up crypto SDIRAs. According to the SEC, fraudsters may utilize the appeal of cryptocurrencies to mislead self-directed IRA participants with the promise of huge returns. However, crypto SDIRA providers thoroughly investigate their digital currency investment options before offering them.
Token Options For Crypto IRAs
Investors can often feel overwhelmed when deciding on a digital asset to add to their IRA plan. With thousands of available options, making the right choice is critical for meeting the desired goals and long-term investment strategies. Token options available for crypto IRAs include:
- Bitcoin (BTC): Bitcoin is the premier token of the crypto industry. The cryptocurrency has grown since its inception to become the most valuable digital asset by market capitalization. It is ranked amongst the most valuable assets globally, with many now considering it a hedge against inflation.
- Ethereum (ETH): ETH is considered Bitcoin’s primary challenger and the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Ethereum is designed on a unique blockchain network that allows developers to build applications on top of it. Despite also being a blockchain like Bitcoin, its inner mechanics differ significantly. This gives its native token (Ether) an incredible long-term potential as more people adopt it.
- Other digital assets available for crypto IRAs include Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Chainlink, Litecoin, Zcash, Stellar Lumens, Aave, Basic Attention Token, The Graph, Livepeer, Maker, Yearn.finance, Decentraland, Dai, Uniswap.
Tax Advantages Of A Crypto IRA
Virtual currencies are classified as property for federal tax reasons, much like stocks or real estate, according to IRS Notice 2014-21. Since virtual currencies are classified as property, many IRA investors find crypto IRAs appealing due to their favorable tax climate. Generally, IRAs are not subject to taxes on transactions involving income or gains from purchasing and selling capital assets like stocks, mutual funds, real estate, etc. This is regardless of whether the gain was short-term or long-term.
Instead, any taxes would be deferred until the IRA holder takes a distribution. Thus, using retirement funds to buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could enable the investor to postpone or even altogether avoid any tax owed on the investment, like in the case of Roth IRAs.
The different IRA types have various tax advantages, which are explained below.
Contributions to a Traditional Crypto IRA are frequently tax deductible. This means that annual payments are deductible from taxable income. Investors are exempt from paying income taxes on their earnings until they take a distribution. Premature withdrawals or withdrawals made before retirement age may incur fees and taxes on the value of the withdrawn funds. Annual contribution caps are available depending on your filing status and annual income.
Employees can contribute a percentage of their wages to SIMPLE IRAs, just like other kinds of IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. Until retirement payouts are taken, the money grows tax-deferred, allowing savings to compound faster.
Employers can receive a tax credit equal to 50% of initial costs for SIMPLE IRA set up, up to a maximum of $500 per year for three years. They also benefit from tax breaks when they contribute to employee retirement plans.
A SEP IRA will lower taxes for the company but not the employee. SEP IRA contributions are tax-deductible and have a cap of 25% of an employee’s total compensation or $61,000 in 2022. For the self-employed making SEP contributions, the self-employment tax will decrease. The increased business expenses will result in a lower net profit and a reduced self-employment tax and income tax.
All contributions to a Roth IRA have already been taxed, allowing you to withdraw the entire balance tax-free at retirement age.
Putting some retirement money into alternative investments like cryptocurrencies could significantly increase returns while preventing losses in traditional investments. However, choosing digital assets that align with an overall investment goal is necessary due to varying risk tolerances. Investors looking to invest in a crypto IRA should do their due diligence on the crypto IRA provider and the digital assets to invest in. In general, adding digital assets to a retirement saving account can help diversify and potentially grow the investments over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Crypto IRAs are used to invest various digital assets in a retirement fund. These IRAs function as self-directed IRAs offered by a few financial institutions that accept alternative investments for retirement savings. In essence, a person can keep their other retirement accounts with traditional assets and separately invest in cryptocurrencies using the self-directed option.
The advantages of owning digital currency in an IRA will differ for each investor based on what factors are important to them. However, there are three main advantages to having cryptocurrency in an IRA:
Tax Advantages: The US government taxes cryptocurrencies similarly to properties. Crypto IRAs, however, help investors save for retirement in a tax-advantaged environment. Investments within these accounts can grow tax-deferred or tax-free, depending on the account type and compliance with IRS regulations.
Short-term/long-term capital gains savings: Like bonds, stocks, and mutual funds, the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies are subject to capital gains tax unless held in an IRA.
Individual purchases and sales made within an IRA do not need to be reported to the IRS for short-term or long-term gains because IRA funds are tax-free or tax-deferred. This means that investors no longer need to keep track of the cost basis for each transaction.
Portfolio Diversification: Investing in a crypto IRA allows for portfolio diversification among retirement investments.
This largely depends on the investor and their specific investment goals. Crypto IRAs are self-directed IRAs that give access to various alternative assets, including real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
While they offer significant tax benefits, the potential for massive returns, and diversification, these assets also come with risks. Investors should do their homework to decide if they have the risk appetite for these investments. One important note is that digital assets are usually more volatile than traditional IRA investment vehicles, so caution should always be exercised when taking the crypto IRA route.