About Lear Capital
In business since 1997, Lear Capital promises to help customers diversify their portfolio with bullion and rare coins, as well as through gold, silver, platinum, and palladium-backed IRA accounts.
This way, whether you’re a first-time investor or a seasoned pro, Lear Capital might be able to help diversify your retirement investment while hedging it against global volatility.
As soon as you open a Lear Capital account, the company promises to provide a personal account representative that can outline your costs before you purchase, as well as provide an ongoing "real-time" investment relationship.
This way, we’re told you’ll receive the very best market data, insights, and breaking precious metals news that can potentially impact your investment. You’ll even gain access to a custom coin search feature, an email price notification application, and more.
Taken together, this is why Lear Capital claims to be “America’s highest rated precious metals investment dealer” with more than $2 billion in trusted transactions to date.
Does that mean that Lear Capital is better than the competition? We’ll explore this important question—and many more—here, all aimed at helping you make a more informed decision.
What Is a Precious Metals-Backed IRA?
Perhaps the easiest way to think of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is like a tax-advantaged savings account. You put money in on a regular basis and as long as you don’t withdraw it before retirement, you either won’t have to pay taxes, or they might be deferred.
There are three types of IRAs:
- Traditional – Primarily, an account where you add earnings before tax.
- Roth – Adding contributions after you’ve paid tax.
- Rollover – “Rolling over” contributions from other retirement plans, like a 401(k).
Now, whereas most IRAs are funded with paper money, they can also be funded using gold and other metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium. This is where companies like Lear Capital come in.
How Does Lear Capital’s Precious Metal IRA Work?
According to the Lear Capital website, one of their team members can walk you through the application, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete. Then, once your application is processed, your account can be live within 24 hours.
From there, the company will contact your IRA custodian to roll over (remember what we learned in the previous section?) all or a portion of the money held in the account, which could take up to five business days.
You’ll be the owner of any precious metals added to your Lear Capital IRA, which will be securely stored in a “state-of-the-art, IRS-approved, insured private” storage facility. When the time comes, this allows you to either take physical possession of the precious metals or liquidate your assets.
In between, we’re told that your new IRA custodian, Self Directed IRA Services, Inc., provides the ability to track your portfolio’s performance online and will send you a quarterly statement via snail mail.
How much will Lear Capital’s services cost you? We’ll talk more about this in a second, but let’s first discuss the potential pros and cons of using precious metals as part of your IRA.
What Are the Pros & Cons for Precious Metals IRAs?
Important note: Keep in mind that we’re not trained financial professionals here at HighYa, so much of what we’ll discuss here is based on publically available information online.
If you need professional advice, we’d strongly recommend speaking with your financial advisor or planner.
With this said, here are some quick advantages and disadvantages related to precious metals IRA in general (not specifically those provided by Lear Capital):
Precious Metals IRA Pros
- Directed only by you
- Value isn’t tied to the stock market
- Often considered a good hedge against inflation
- Helps diversify your portfolio
- Can take physical possession or liquidate
- Tax advantages
Precious Metals IRA Cons
- Only very specific metals and purities are eligible
- No compounding interest, which can be a huge contributing factor to your overall balance
- Still subject to volatility. In fact, the price of gold and many other precious metals is at an all-time low since 2011 (more about this in a moment)
- Holding costs
Let’s continue talking about holding costs in the next section.
How Much Does Lear Capital Cost?
At the time of our research, Lear Capital’s coins were priced as follows:
- Gold Coins: $455 - $1,353
- Silver Coins: $18 - $14K
- Premium Coins: Varies
Lear Capital accepts cash, personal checks, cashier's checks, money orders, wire transfers, and credit cards. Once purchased, they guarantee shipment within 15-17 business days, although they typically go out within a week after your funds clear.
All gold orders over $10K receive free shipping.
If you currently own precious metals, you can also receive an offer for them by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As far as Lear Capital’s IRAs go, there is no minimum investment required, although you will have to pay a $160 per year fee for storage of your precious metals, insurance, and financial statements.
Outside of this, Lear Capital claims that their transaction fees vary greatly based on many factors, including the uniqueness or rarity of the product, the quantity purchased, size of the coins, and more.
When you open a new IRA account or roll over a portion of your existing IRA, Lear Capital provides a 30-Day Price Guarantee Certificate. If the price of your metals drops within this time, they claim they’ll “adjust the value of your IRA to the market.”
Have more questions? Lear Capital’s customer service department can be reached at 800-576-9355.
What Can We Learn From Lear Capital Reviews?
Two HighYa readers had provided their feedback about Lear Capital since writing our original review, giving the company an average rating of 3 stars.
One customer wrote about great customer service and pricing, while the other claimed they experienced a “bait and switch” scenario regarding commission.
Lear Capital also had 38 closed customer complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s website, most of which appeared to reference difficulty getting someone from the company to return their calls. In all instances, Lear Capital responded to the complaints.
From a company perspective, Lear Capital has been in business for nearly two decades, and is currently headed by CEO Scott Carter—who’s also the face you’ll see in many of their commercials.
Scott even fields questions directly via his Ask Scott Q&A page on the Lear Capital website.
Lear Capital vs. the Competition
Type the phrase “gold IRA” or “precious metals broker” into any search engine, and you’ll quickly learn that there are perhaps hundreds of different companies that offer many of the same services as Lear Capital.
Of these, perhaps the biggest distinguishing factor is that Rosland Capital allows customers to invest in physical gold or gold-based ETFs, while most other options are physical only.
Physical or not, should you choose Lear Capital over the other guys?
Is Lear Capital a Smart Investment?
Talk about a short question with a long answer! In a nutshell, though, this depends on what you mean by “smart.”
Do Precious Metals Always Increase In Price?
Is investing in precious metals—particularly gold—the sure thing it’s often portrayed in many of the late night commercials? Definitely not. For proof, you can look no further than the fact that gold was at an all-time low back in April 2015.
The good news is that some are predicting a new record high for gold in the next year and a half.
But the point is that, although precious metals aren’t tied to the stock market, they can still undergo massive price fluctuations in a matter of a couple years.
Are Coins a Wise Investment?
If you’re talking about bullion (i.e. coins that are manufactured each year and are based on the price of the metal(s) they contain), many professionals indicate that they might be a good investment tool in your IRA, or even a broader portfolio.
On the other hand, the value of numismatic coins (i.e. those no longer in production) is largely based on rarity, condition, market sentiment (what other collectors are willing to pay), and other factors that might make them collectible, but that can also make them risky investments.
In the end, there are far too many personal and financial factors at play to understand whether or not Lear Capital is the right choice for you. However, what we learned during our research should help you start a conversation with your financial professional.
Looking to explore other personal factors? We’d recommend reading Investopedia’s Should You Get a Gold IRA?
Before you go: Are you a Lear Capital customer? Tell the world about your experience by writing a review below!
2 out 2 people found this review helpful
Purchased gold for portfolio
At the end of January, I purchased 12 one-ounce American Gold Eagle coins from Lear Capital. The person who helped with my purchase was Terrence, who I had spoken with over the last few weeks about this order. I had not purchased any precious metals in a couple of years, but I was getting a little worried about diversifying my portfolio and decided to take the plunge.
The whole process was very painless, and Terrence was able to answer every one of my questions. I decided on paying via bank wire so there would be no delay in when my order was placed and when it would be fulfilled. I was also worried about delivery since this is a pretty large order for me and I did not wany anything to go wrong. They assured me that they would be using FedEx and the delivery would require a signature and be insured. I received my order less than a week after I sent payment and I could not be happier with how it all went.
I am currently discussing the possibility of setting up recurring orders to help keep my portfolio at a manageable risk level. I will update with details of any future orders.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
4 out 5 people found this review helpful
Befriend, Educate, Mislead, but get their money
When I contacted Lear Capital, my concern was the probable collapse of our economy. I wanted to possess silver, which I could use for barter in case our money lost its value. Money in hand, not in a bank vault. If the economy were to collapse, there wouldn't be anyone to deliver it since they wouldn't be getting paid, themselves.
Gary (Rickets, Rickett, I don't remember) was the person I dealt with. He educated me about silver, etc. He's good. I'm grateful for the knowledge I gained. I was rolling over $17,000. I wanted "rounds", or "bullion". However, when the time came to purchase, I somehow let him convince me that what I wanted was the "collectible" Canadian polar bears. He even "threw in" 8 of them for free.
I had quite a shock when I got my first quarterly statement. The value of the account was $8,500. That was half of what I invested. I was told that that was the "melt down value". Basically the "spot" value. So, IF I can find someone to buy them, and IF they're willing to pay the premium value like I did, I can make my money back. Not likely to happen. The market has to double just for me to break even.
$8,500. I feel it was stolen from me. I don't have any use for a thief.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
2 out 4 people found this review helpful
Good personal customer service is hard to find
I had the pleasure of working with Joanne V at Lear Capital. From day one I knew she was a rare personable person. Always answering my questions and never pressuring me or my wife to rush into a decision. I was hesitant about investing into a self-directed IRA. After looking into several companies I discovered that Lear Capital provided me with the best information and Joanne's knowledge and insight have been spot on. What sealed the deal for us, was the fact that she negotiated strong pricing on our behalf even after the market went up during our deliberation period. It was an easy and smooth transition. I appreciate that we had a compliance call to secure the transaction as our IRA total is a significant amount of money and we demanded full transparency which she provided. Joanne was there at every point and was very helpful. I recommend Lear Capital to any first time investors looking for the best way to invest in a gold IRA.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
14 out 21 people found this review helpful
Bait and Switch and was charged 33% commission on IRA
At the very end of the deal they did a BAIT AND SWITCH. They Convinced me to purchase Canadian Silver Falcons instead of Canadian Maple Leaves. As a result I was charged a 33% COMMISSION. I was rolling over $70,000 into an IRA. That would have gotten me close to 3500 1 oz Maple leaves at a cost of about $20.00 per oz. Instead, I ended up with $1520 1.5 oz Silver Falcons, or 2281 oz and paid close to $30.5 per oz. So instead of paying $20 per oz I paid 30.5 per oz. They offered to buy back my Silver Falcons at a price of around $28.00 per coin. So in 3 Weeks time, my $70,000 investment with Lear in now Worth $43,000.
The first sales rep I spoke with was great and very informative except for the 33% commission. The product guy was the one that got me. He told me the Silver Falcons were better because they are .9999 pure and the Maple leaves are only .999 pure.
The only time I was told of the 33% commission was during the purchase recording. The purchase recording is high pressure and we had to reply it 2 or 3 times to get it clear. I asked specifically if I was paying 33% after one the attempts and was told, “No we just have to say that to everyone.” If I had heard anything that sounded in the order of a 33% Commission before that time, I would have run for the hills. They intentionally misinformed me.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend