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Self-Directed IRA Basics


How it Works

A self-directed IRA allows you to expand your investment options beyond stocks and CDs, providing a better opportunity to diversify your retirement portfolio. If you’re new to saving or unfamiliar with self-directed IRAs, explore this page to discover the different tax-advantages of retirement accounts and how self-directed IRAs work.


The term "self-directed" simply means that you, as the individual account owner, have complete control over selecting and directing your own individual retirement investments.


A self-directed IRA allows you to choose where to grow your IRA funds among the myriad of permitted investments, such as real estate, private placements, notes, and precious metals, with a range of tax benefits along the way!

Get Started Quickly and Easily

When you open your account with Entrust, we walk you through the process of opening and funding your account, and we assist you in completing transactions safely and accurately. We make it easy.

Self-Directed IRA Rules

Review the basic self-directed IRA rules you need to know to remain compliant with IRS regulations. You may also read about prohibited transactions in your IRA as well to avoid penalties.

Educational Tools

Questions like,"What is an Individual (k)?" or "What are the rules for a real estate ira?" are common for new investors. At Entrust, we believe that knowledge and education are tools you need to take control of your retirement. Find the answers to questions like these and more in our Learning Center!  


One of the platinum group metals, palladium is used extensively as an industrial catalyst and is a key component in the manufacturing of automotive catalytic converters. Palladium is also essential in the jewelry industry...and is one of the three most used metals (along with nickel and silver) which can be alloyed with gold to produce "white gold." It is also used in dentistry, watch making, and in the production of surgical instruments and electrical contacts.

In the auto catalyst industry, palladium is currently a lower-cost substitute for the more expensive alternative, platinum. As this is written, palladium sells for around one-quarter the price of platinum. But that has not always been the case. In late 2000 and early 2001, for example, due to supply disruptions and a resulting panic by auto manufacturers (most notably, Ford Motor Co.), the price of palladium reached an all-time high of nearly $1,100 an ounce, approximately the same price as platinum at the time.

Over half of the world's annual supply of palladium comes from Russia...and the amount and status of Russian palladium supplies are state secrets. In the past, Russia has routinely withheld supplies of palladium from world markets for its own political and/or economic gain, resulting in very large and very fast fluctuations in palladium prices.

It is this historical range of prices, and the price differential between palladium and platinum at any given time that gives palladium its attractive investment potential. The price of palladium has been, and could again be, extremely volatile, providing investors with a significant opportunity for speculative profit.

Palladium bullion is available from Smith & Barrow in 1-ounce bars of pure .999 fine palladium. Each bar is manufactured by one of the world's leading refiners, and is hallmarked to certify weight and purity. Call an Account Representative today to discuss whether a palladium bullion investment is right for you and how you could add palladium to your investment portfolio.

Smith & Barrow Account Representatives are normally available between 9:00am and 4:00pm Eastern time each Monday through Friday (except national holidays)...and on many weekends. Give us a call...give our service a try...and compare our prices. You'll see why Smith & Barrow has been America's trusted name in coin and bullion trading.


There was a time—just a few hundred years ago, in fact—when platinum was neither an industrial metal, nor a strategic metal, nor a precious metal used for high-end jewelry. In fact, during the 17th century in South America, the Spanish Conquistadors thought the metal was a nuisance because it interfered with their gold mining operations.

What a difference a century or two can make! In the early 1800s, platinum was found in the gold fields of the Ural Mountains in Russia...and the Russian government decided to take that rare element and turn it into a monetary metal by producing platinum roubles. Over the next 18 years, the Russians minted nearly half a million ounces of platinum roubles and transformed the metal from a mere commodity into a precious metal that was and is, like gold, a store of value.

Today, platinum is a widely-used although extremely rare metal, critically important to the auto industry, the jewelry trade, and the chemical, electrical and glass manufacturing industries. Far rarer than gold, it is estimated that all of the platinum ever mined throughout history would fit into a cube less than 25 feet on each side. The vast majority of platinum mined today comes from just two parts of the world: The Bushveld Complex north of Pretoria, South Africa and the Noril'sk-Talnakh region of Siberia in Russia, which produce, respectively, about two-thirds and one-quarter of the world's platinum supply each year.

Platinum's supply/demand fundamentals are tight. In fact, according to some estimates, if platinum mining were to cease today, there would be only about a year's supply available to industry. In contrast, above-ground supplies of gold would last nearly a quarter of a century. More than 50% of annual platinum production is used in the automotive industry. Platinum is a primary element in auto catalysts that control vehicle exhaust emissions of hydro-carbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulates. Auto catalysts convert most of these emissions into less-harmful carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. As developing countries such as China and India introduce new environmental legislation to combat air pollution, the demand for auto catalysts—and extremely limited supplies of platinum—is sure to increase.

Platinum's relative scarcity in the face of ever-increasing demand gives platinum incredible investment potential. Its historical price performance —at one time selling at a steep discount to gold, but today, selling at a significant premium to gold—makes platinum a provocative and attractive investment vehicle.

Platinum bullion is available from Smith & Barrow in 10-ounce bars of pure .9995 fine platinum for trading, storage or personal delivery. Each bar is produced by a leading refiner, such as Johnson-Matthey, and hallmarked to certify weight and purity. Call an Account Representative today to discuss how an investment in platinum bullion could and possibly should become part of your investment portfolio.


A recent quote by Paul Volker, ex-Fed Chairman, certainly causes one to stop and think, he said "The fate of the world economy is now totally dependant on the growth of the US economy, which is dependant on the stock market, whose growth is dependant on about 50 stocks, half of which have never reported any earnings."  Prudent investors are beginning to diversify out of financial institutions and paper promises and into tangible assets. Gold is recovering from twenty year lows, and today gold provides an opportunity to take a low risk position amidst volatile world financial markets. At the very least, gold provides insurance and peace of mind. In our opinion, placing a third of your money into gold is easy, it's what to do with the other two thirds that is so hard.

Better Way To Own Gold For the Past 6,000 Years, the most sought-after form of asset protection has been gold.  Gold is the most liquid financial asset in the world. It has no borders, is recognized throughout the world, and can easily be transported or hidden. For this reason, owning gold represents financial privacy and independence. Gold frustrates the attempts of governments to completely control the finances and lives of their citizens. Gold performs the role as the only true money. Tyrants, dictators, can’t undermine its value nor politicians who print paper money at will, making their currencies worth less and less each year. Unlike paper money, gold hold its value over the long run. For example… Back in 1933, you could buy a first class, tailor-made suit of clothes with a U.S. $20 gold coin or a $20 bill. Today, that $20 gold coin, worth about $1,100, will still buy a nice suit of clothes. The $20 bill, however wont even buy a decent necktie. During the great depression, cash was king because cash was backed by gold. In truth, gold was king. While most assets plunged like a stone in the 1930’s, the price of gold shot up dramatically. In a depression, economic crisis, inflation or war, people seek financial security. They invest in assets that represent more than just a paper promise to pay. For many, that means owning gold.

Gold Bullion, Coins, and Bars

An important measure of any investment is its liquidity: How easy is it to resell? Almost all gold bullion coins and bars are accepted in major investment markets worldwide.  Bullion is for those investors seeking narrow spreads between buy and sell prices. It's easy to track the value of gold. For instance just take a look at any major newspaper reporting the daily price of gold or just visit our " Quotes and Charts" page. A gold bullion coin's value is based on the price, plus a small premium to cover coinage and distribution costs. They are typically minted in four weights - 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 ounce - to fit a variety of budgets. The smaller sizes also make affordable and thoughtful gifts. There are several bullion coins to choose from. We recommend the following coins because they are the most widely traded and accepted all over the world.

American Eagle Gold Coins  Authorized by the Bullion Coin Act of 1985, American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins quickly became one of the world's leading gold bullion investment coins. Produced from gold mined in the United States , American Eagles are imprinted with their gold content and legal tender "face" value. However, the face value is largely symbolic since their market value has historically been much higher. This has also caused some dealers to claim that American Eagle Gold Coins are "numismatic" coin, which is not only false, but we take issue with anyone who tries to convince you that they are. Please see our section on reporting requirements. American Eagles use the durable 22 karat standard established for gold circulating coinage over 350 years ago. They contain their stated amount of pure gold, plus small amounts of alloy. This creates harder coins that resist scratching and marring, which can diminish resale value. Minted to exacting standards, the obverse (front) design is inspired by what's often considered America 's most beautiful coin: Augustus Saint Gaudens' celebrated $20 gold piece, minted from 1907-33. The reverse features a nest of American Eagles, symbolizing family tradition and unity. Canadian Maple Leaf Made of 99.99% pure gold, Gold Maple Leaf coins come in five sizes ranging from 1 oz. to 1/20 oz, (smaller sizes are often not available). The Royal Canadian Mint was the first world mint to commercially produce 99.99% pure gold. Although this makes the coin "soft" and is more easily damged, this innovation gave the Gold Maple Leaf instant recognition when it was introduced to the bullion coin market years ago, and it remains the one of the most well recognized and sought after bullion coin in the market today. South African Krugerrand The South African Krugerrand was first released in 1967. For the first 20 years of its existence, it dominated the gold bullion market, and is still the most widely held gold coin in the world today. The obverse of this 22kt coin depicts Paul Kruger, President of the original South African Republic from 1883 to 1902, and the reverse shows the springbok, the national animal of South Africa . Because the "spreads" are typically lower than other bullion coins, it makes it simple to know the exact value of your coins and are often purchased by "price conscience" investors. The Krugerrand is available in four sizes: one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth ounce. Each size relates easily to the current 1-ounce gold price. Gold Bars The credit Suisse gold bar is an internationally recognized product made of 24 kt gold. It is unique among gold bullion products in that it comes housed with its own certificate of authenticity and purity, including its own unique serial number, which is stamped both on the bar and on the certificate. At one time this bar was the only way to purchase 24 karat gold at close to bullion prices. As with all bullion items, the bar trades for its content plus a small premium to cover the cost of minting, distributing, and advertising.


SILVER BULLION, COINS, AND BARS Silver has historically been one of the most affordable precious metals. The silver market offers investors a variety of products. Although there are several categories of silver bullion to choose from, we recommend you consider these popularly traded silver coins and bars.

1 Oz. American Silver Eagles: Silver Eagles are dated from their early inception in 1986 through currently minted 2000. They are minted at West Point, New York and are .999 fine silver. Silver Eagles normally sell for modest premiums above their melt value. However in late 1999, early 2000, the coins were hyped as \"collectibles\" and \"the last silver dollars of the 20th century\" which is true. Many of these coins were even painted red, white and blue to justify prices as high as $39.95 ea. The promotions were and have been successful, consequently causing the premiums on Silver Eagles to climb above their normal level of premium. Although the Silver Eagles are a popular \"bullion\" coin, experience tells us that the current high premiums on such coins will not last forever. When the promotion is\'s over and the premiums will collapse back to normal levels. In fact, investors who have purchased Silver Eagles should call us to consider selling their coins at a profit or swapping to another form of silver thereby increasing their total number of ounces.

1 Oz. Canadian Silver Maple Leaf: Silver Maple Leaf coins, sold in a 1 oz. size, are made of fine 99.99% pure silver. The Silver Maple is one of the most widely traded silver bullion coins in the market today. If you are considering purchasing a bullion coin minted currently by a government, this would be an excellent choice.

Silver Bars Although the popularity of silver bars has fallen considerably and wholesale markets consider them to be unfavorable, there continues to be those that ask about silver bars. Johnson-Matthey and Engelhard are two of the world\'s largest precious metals firms with operations around the world. When considering silver bars, investors should ask for either of these two hallmarks.


Silver bullion rounds are a popular way to invest in silver bullion because one-ounce silver rounds offer the better of two worlds. Silver rounds are .999 fine silver, making them a pure silver investment. And, being one ounce, silver rounds could easily be used as money in a worst-case scenario.

ENGELHARD ONE-OUNCE SILVER ROUNDS By far, the preferred one-ounce silver rounds are the Engelhard Silver Prospectors. Because Engelhard has not made Silver Prospectors since 1988, they are available only when they show up in the secondary market.

OTHER POPULAR ONE-OUNCE SILVER ROUNDS Wall Street Mint and Sunshine Minting produce popular one-ounce silver rounds. The WSM silver rounds are designed after the classic Buffalo/Indian Head nickel. The Sunshine Minting silver rounds depict an eagle flying through the sun and are called Silver Eagles. Sunshine Silver Eagles are not to be confused with American Silver Eagles, which are legal tender $1 silver coins minted by the U.S. Mint.

GENERIC SILVER ROUNDS Included in the category of generic silver rounds are all the silver rounds produced over the last thirty years by firms that are no longer in business. Also included are one-ounce silver rounds marketed by small firms that are still in business but are not well known.

Generic silver rounds usually do not display the manufacturing mint's hallmark or name, and they come in a myriad of designs. Sometimes generic rounds are loose in a bag, like pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver coins. Sometimes generic silver rounds are packaged in tubes.

Generic silver rounds sell at smaller markups than Engelhard Silver Prospectors or Wall Street Mint and Sunshine Minting silver rounds.