GoldStar Trust is a company that acts as a custodian for self-directed IRAs. Because self-directed IRAs can contain alternative assets, the legal requirements to manage them are more complicated. There are a lot of administrative rules and minutiae that a standard IRA custodian won’t be versed in.
Although GoldStar Trust is among the largest self-directed IRA custodians, the company has a questionable reputation. What exactly do past customers have to say, and what are GoldStar Trust’s current policies? We’ve taken a look at what they have to offer and whether prior customers were satisfied.
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About GoldStar Trust
GoldStar Trust is known for maintaining complicated self-directed IRAs with a large number of alternative assets. Different alternative assets all have different federal regulations for compliance. These all tend to be complicated, rather than straightforward like with stocks and bonds.
According to the GoldStar Trust company website, the main assets that they specialize in are:
That’s a huge variety of different assets and accounts. People with more than one of these will often find that it’s prohibitively expensive to get a company to manage all of their assets. So GoldStar Trust is filling a much-needed niche.
Unfortunately, there seem to be major issues with the way that GoldStar Trust is managed. Despite their educational materials and long history in the business, they have not maintained a positive reputation or overall customer satisfaction.
Is GoldStar Trust Legitimate?
GoldStar Trust certainly seems to be a legitimate company. They have worked with over 60,000 investors and currently manage more than three billion dollars worth of assets. The employees have gone through the rigorous training required to manage self-directed IRA portfolios.
However, being a licensed business isn’t the same as being a good business. There are red flags all over the place where GoldStar Trust is concerned. Let’s take a look at two of their biggest online presences: their BBB page and their Yelp page.
The BBB page shows that GoldStar Trust has existed for more than a century. And yet the company has not been accredited. That’s a red flag as far as their ability to manage assets goes. A lack of accreditation means that the BBB does not consider this a trustworthy source. They also have an A- rating, when most good businesses have an A+.
The customer reviews on the BBB page just make it worse. There are five, all of which give 1 out of 5 stars. Then there have been a stunning 21 complaints filed in the past three years. That’s four times more complaints than customer reviews! Even if the customer reviews had been positive, that would be a major problem.
On Yelp, the situation is even worse. The company has claimed their Yelp page, so there’s no chance that some other firm is being mixed up with them. Out of the 27 Yelp reviews, there’s an average of 1.5 out of 5 stars. That means that the vast majority of people left a one-star review.
The company owner has responded to at least one positive review and one negative review on Yelp. But for the most part, the complaints have been completely ignored. At least on the BBB website, companies need to respond in order to maintain their rating.
Let’s look at some of the BBB complaints in-depth and see what the issues were, as well as how GoldStar Trust handled the resolutions.
There are 21 complaints on the BBB website. Of those, eight were filed over the last year. The breakdown shows that 15 complaints had to do with a product or service, four complaints had to do with billing issues, and two were related to delivery issues.
While we can't look at every single complaint, we can break down some of the more recent ones to see whether there are any patterns.
One complaint was filed in October of 2023. It was from a customer who said that they had filled out paperwork to receive IRA distributions two months prior. They had chosen to receive their distributions by having the gold mailed to them. When the paperwork was filed, they were told that a shipping carrier would be in contact within around five days.
But in the six weeks since, the customer had not been contacted by GoldStar Trust at all. They had tried to call the company on multiple occasions. Even though a representative answered the phone, they just said that they were "working on it." The customer called again after six weeks and was informed that the paperwork hadn't been filed for three weeks after the initial date.
The customer said that they had been told that no further action would be taken, and that the company was continuing to wait to process the distributions. They were particularly upset because the price of gold had dropped significantly since they made the initial request for a distribution.
GoldStar responded to say that they had investigated the complaint. Their findings indicated that the client had filed paperwork in August, like they said. At the beginning of September, a GoldStar team received a shipping quote from a shipping company, then processed the distribution. There were shipping fees and termination fees applied to the account.
Instead of being sent out immediately, the package was then moved to quality control. Two days later, GoldStar sent the client a letter about their fees. Because there were outstanding fees, they would not move the precious metals. The outstanding fees were paid the day afterward. Four days later, the depository request was sent again.
When the client called to complain at the end of September, GoldStar escalated their call and asked for an update from the depository. The team was told that the order was in the processing queue. GoldStar explained this to the client, who was displeased by the delays.
While the timeline of this investigation is technically compliant with GoldStar's corporate policies, it also seems unnecessarily convoluted. Why did the customer have to manually pay extra fees? Why did it take several days between each communication for the next step to occur? Why didn't GoldStar make more of an effort to expedite the client's distribution?
There's a lot in this timeline that could be improved to make the client experience better. But the response contains no apology or apparent intent to alter their internal organization.
Bungled Distribution Requests
The next complaint also has to do with a client attempting to receive a distribution from their account. It was filed in July of 2023. According to the client, they had begun the process of filing their distribution request back in March. The client had to attempt four different faxes and emails before GoldStar finally confirmed that the request had been received.
At the end of May, the client received their shipment. It should have been a shipment of all of their precious metals holdings. This was what they had indicated on their paperwork, and this was what they had paid for in fees. At first, the client didn't realize that anything was wrong. But when they went through the shipment one week later, they found that 20 of their silver American Eagle coins were missing.
When the customer contacted their IRA depository, the rep there told them to contact GoldStar. GoldStar had only put in a request for 806 of the client's 826 coins to be shipped. Then the customer talked to GoldStar and was informed that the error had occurred.
Another ten days after all of that, GoldStar sent the client an email to say that they would need to pay for shipping for their 20 coins. The customer didn't want to pay an extra fee due to GoldStar's negligence, for obvious reasons. They requested a reimbursement for the fee multiple times, but GoldStar never responded.
Then GoldStar sent the customer a bill for an annual account maintenance fee and paper statement fee. If the account had been emptied and closed when it was supposed to, neither of these fees would have been charged.
Like with the previous complaint, GoldStar responded with a full timeline of their end of the transaction. They did take responsibility for the error, although they said that they had not received any emails from the client asking to be refunded for their fees. In compliance with the client's request, GoldStar refunded their account maintenance, paper statement, and additional shipment fees.
The client confirmed that they had received the electronic refunds. However, one of the refunds was being sent by check, and they did not have it yet. GoldStar confirmed that they had mailed it. A week later, the customer followed up to say that they considered the situation resolved, so presumably the check arrived.
None of this should have happened. After the initial error was found, GoldStar should have immediately shipped out the remaining coins free of charge. The client should definitely not have been charged these exorbitant fees and surcharges. While it's good that they were refunded in the end, it took an inordinately long time to get there. Something seems to be amiss with GoldStar's internal automation.
Erroneous Requests for Payment
Two more complaints were also related to problems with distributions, long wait times, and fees. They were very similar to the two complaints outlined above.
In June of 2023, a customer submitted a complaint about receiving requests for a payment from the GoldStar Trust Company. This customer had tried to transfer their self-directed IRA to another custodian. But GoldStar had refused to initiate the transfer, and then continued to charge the client maintenance and transaction fees.
The customer had asked that GoldStar liquidate their account and give them their money back. But apparently the account had no money to liquidate. The customer said that they were beginning to think that GoldStar was a scam company, or that they had stolen the customer's money.
GoldStar was supposed to be managing $5,000 of this client's assets. The customer was asking that the account transfer be completed immediately. They stated that they were willing to have a phone call to give GoldStar all of the relevant information. This solution had been attempted before, but the new IRA custodian said that they'd never received the relevant communication from GoldStar.
GoldStar responded to say that the customer's account fees should have been waived in 2018. However, there was a machine error that made the fee structure continue to apply. When the customer's previous BBB complaint was received, their account model was updated. This was in 2020.
In 2021, GoldStar set up a new fee for paper statements. Clients could opt out of this by receiving electronic statements. The client in question had apparently not opted into electronic statements, so they were being charged for the paper processing.
Finally, GoldStar stated that the account could not be transferred. There was a church bond inside the IRA, which most other IRA custodians would not handle. They stated that the customer would need to find an IRA custodian who would take the account if they wanted to transfer it.
So first there was a machine error that wasn't resolved until the customer filed an official complaint about it. Then the company refused to transfer the customer's account, but apparently didn't communicate the reasons why. Then the company initiated a new billing structure, even though the client wanted to transfer the account. When the client didn't opt out of the new fees, the company blamed them for the issue.
The level of communication breakdown here is mind boggling. And these events had taken place over five years, or three years if you only count the time since the customer's first BBB complaint.
Pros & Cons of GoldStar Trust
We would not, under any circumstances, recommend that anybody open an account with GoldStar Trust. The company’s overall reputation and practices are simply too glaring to ignore.
GoldStar Trust has been part of this industry for a long time. They have gone out of their way to specialize in a number of alternative assets that many self-directed IRA companies don’t manage. So they seem like a go-to option if you have any kind of complex portfolio. After all, if they currently manage $3 billion in assets for their clients, then they must be good, right?
Their website is easy to navigate, and all of their credentials are impressive. On top of this, they make it seem reasonably easy to create a self-directed IRA with a complicated allocation of assets. Even if you don’t have a financial background, they’ll take care of it for you. Or so they say.
But the consumer reviews are so unrelentingly awful. A company doesn’t have feedback this poor without there being some kind of systemic issue, whether that’s with their policies or with their management. There are so many unhappy stories out there, and GoldStar Trust has barely cared to comment on them.
Many other self-directed IRA custodians can manage a complicated blend of alternative assets. Even though they might be pricier, they also tend to have better reputations. When you’re entrusting your retirement to a financial institution, you want to make sure that that institution truly has your best interests at heart. All of the feedback from past customers about GoldStar Trust seems to indicate that they don’t.
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