What Are Typical Fees To Manage An IRA?

Thursday, July 18th 2024

Individual Retirement Accounts, commonly referred to as IRAs, provide individuals with an excellent way of saving for retirement – with options ranging from traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs through SEP and SIMPLE accounts – but each financial vehicle comes with fees attached; understanding these expenses will allow you to maximize the potential returns from your IRA investments and ensure a profitable experience overall.

In this comprehensive post, we’ll investigate the fees typically associated with managing an IRA account. These costs will be broken into seven distinct categories – custodian fees, mutual fund fees, ETF/stock trading fees, advisor fees, account maintenance/termination/miscellaneous fees etc.

Custodian Fees

Financial institutions known as custodians store customers’ securities safely for them and protect them from being stolen or lost; such institutions include banks, credit unions, trust companies or brokerage firms. A custodian fee covers managing these securities which may involve account setup, transactions, record keeping and tax reporting among many other services provided by custodians.

Custodial fees for an IRA typically fall in the $20-50 per year range, depending on which custodians you use; some charge flat fees while others assess a percentage based on AUM (1); sometimes these fees can even be waived if an investor meets certain account balance thresholds or subscribes for additional services.

Mutual Fund Fees

Mutual funds are an increasingly popular investment choice among IRA owners due to their diversification benefits. By pooling money from many investors into one pot, these mutual funds create an investment portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other assets with broad diversification potential. But mutual funds also come with their own cost burden; commonly expressed as an expense ratio percentage on your investments.

The expense ratio encompasses management fees, administrative costs, and operational expenses that affect an index fund; on average this ratio ranges between 0.2% for index funds to as high as 2% in active managed funds.

Load fees, which essentially function like sales charges or commission, must also be factored into mutual fund costs. Front-end loads must be paid when purchasing fund shares; back-end loads, however, must be accounted for when selling them later. Thankfully, many no-load funds now offer their products without this additional expense.

ETF and Stock Trading Fees

ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds, 2) and individual stocks are popular investment choices within an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Like mutual funds, however, ETFs incur costs which must also be factored into consideration.

Trading fees or commissions are charges you incur when buying and selling ETFs or stocks, such as ETFs from an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or stocks through brokerage accounts. Many online brokers now provide commission-free trades; it’s essential that you read their fine print carefully as some may only allow a limited number of free transactions each month.

ETFs typically carry expense ratios that are similar to mutual funds and range between 0.055%-1.0%.

Financial Advisor Fees

If you hire a financial advisor to oversee your IRA, there may be associated advisor fees which vary based on his/her compensation structure and will become part of your expenses.

Fee-only advisors often charge between 0.25% to 1% annually of assets they manage as fees; some might charge hourly, flat, or retainer fees as well. By contrast, fee-based advisors might incorporate both fees and commissions, potentially creating conflicts of interest and less transparency with clients.

Account Maintenance Fees

Annual or administrative fees, sometimes known as account maintenance fees, cover various services provided in the administration of an IRA account such as record-keeping, mailings and customer support.

Custodian fees vary substantially by service provider; typically, anywhere from zero to $100 or more each year. Some providers may waive these costs in return for maintaining a minimum balance or agreeing to electronic statements instead of paper ones.

Account Termination Fees

Should you decide to close your IRA, an account termination fee might be charged as part of its administrative costs associated with closing and dispersing its funds. This fee covers such costs.

Termination fees vary between custodians but generally fall in the range of $50 to $100, and transfer-out fees should also be taken into consideration if your IRA moves from one provider to the other or you cash it out early. It is wise to plan for such costs if changing providers or cashing out early is in your plans.

Miscellaneous Fees

Finally, an IRA may incur various miscellaneous fees that include paper statements, inactivity fees, excessive trading activity fees, wire transfers, account reorganization services and check processing services.

While these fees may seem to be small at first, in time they can eat into your retirement savings and decrease its value. It is therefore essential that you carefully evaluate the fee schedule of any potential custodian and know what fees could apply to you.


An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be an excellent decision when investing for retirement, yet it’s essential that you fully comprehend its associated fees in order to make more informed decisions and find an IRA provider with which you feel most confident, ultimately saving thousands over its life cycle.

Remember, while fees should play an integral part of your decision-making process, other considerations must also play an integral part. Quality services provided, investment options offered, and potential returns should all factor in significantly as you evaluate potential providers.

As always, when in doubt seek advice from an established financial advisor. He or she can guide you through the complexities of an IRA account while helping ensure that you’re on target to meet your retirement goals.

Are you ready to include gold and silver in your IRA?

Making investments in gold can help diversify your portfolio of investments. Because gold has minimal to no connection with equities and bonds, it can reduce the risk for you in total. You can invest in gold through special gold IRA administrators, which you can find out more about below.

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  • Gregory says:

    Thank you for this article, it is quite difficult to get a feel for the real cost of IRAs when you browse each company’s website, this clarifies it all.

    • Hi Gregory,

      Thank you for your kind words. Not all gold IRA companies are transparent with their fees. This is actually one of the many advantages of dealing with a reputable and praised gold IRA company: No bad surprise with hidden fees or inflated gold prices. Make sure to read our comparative article reviewing all the best IRA companies out there.

      Happy investing!