There are many companies out there that can help you with your choice to invest in precious metals. It's vital, though, to ask yourself whether you can trust those companies before investing with them.
Though it might seem silly to think about whether you can trust a company like Lear Capital, the truth is that there are plenty of people who have a negative view of this company. From consumer complaints to lawsuits, there's enough information out there that you owe it to yourself to do some research before it's safe for you to invest your money with them.
Looking at how this company works and its reputation is a good way to decide whether or not the company should get your money. If you're interested in learning more about Lear Capital, read on.
IMPORTANT NOTE BEFORE STARTING:
We understand that selecting a company to invest with is a critical decision. Our team has spent thousands of hours researching and reporting on the good, bad, and ugly of thousands of gold dealers.
We take great pride in providing the most in-depth, researched, and comprehensive information as possible so you can make the best decision for yourself and/or family.
Out of the thousands of dealers that we've reviewed, there are only 5 companies that we'd personal choose to invest with ourselves.
Did Lear Capital make it to the top 5? Read the above review to find out. Or continue on.
Who is Lear Capital?
At its heart, Lear Capital is a precious metals company. What this means for consumers is that the company specializes in all aspects of the precious metals world, from personal investments to IRAs. The company specializes in gold and silver like most in this market, but they also have some platinum options.
Customers have choices here if they want to invest. If they like, they can buy their precious metals and have them shipped to their homes or one of several storage options. If they're looking towards retirement, though, they also have the option of investing in an IRA.
The company also specializes in educating investors. They have a Free Gold Kit that is meant to teach investors about how the gold market works and several other tools that those same investors can use. The company also has a suite of tools that can be used to see how inflation could impact one's savings or even to take a closer look at how prices might change in the future based on past data.
There are two primary choices that buyers have when working with Lear Capital. They can buy their own precious metals and find a way to store them on their own, or they can invest in an IRA that gives certain tax benefits but that requires that their items be stored in an IRS-approved vault.
If you do choose to buy your own metals, you'll be able to have them shipped directly from Lear to the address of your choice. Before you get to that point, though, you'll have to make a purchase.
The most common metal bought from Lear is gold. The company has several coin and bar options, most of which are from the United States but several of which come from other countries. The company also has a fair number of silver options, though not as many as you might like. Again, you're going to see both coins and bars here. Finally, the company does offer a single platinum item, the American Eagle platinum coin.
Lear Capital does also offer self-directed precious metals IRAs. These IRAs are similar to traditional IRAs but let you use alternative investments like precious metals instead of stocks and bonds.
Starting up your IRA is pretty simple. You'll begin by filling out a form to start an IRA account and then fund your account. Funding can be done either by rolling over an existing eligible retirement account like an IRA or a 401(k), or by adding new funds into your account. In either case, funding doesn't take all that long, and once you do, you will be able to start adding precious metals to your account.
These types of IRAs require that you store all of your precious metals in storage facilities that the IRS has approved. You can't store metals you want to use for this account at home, so you'll have to take on the financial responsibility of paying for storage.
Regardless of why you invest, you need to know the price of precious metals. It's always good to start by comparing the prices of a company like Lear Capital to others so you can determine if you are getting a good deal.
At the moment, it looks like Lear Capital is charging about a twelve percent markup on its gold. That's not nearly the highest in the industry, but it is still well above what you will find from the most reputable gold dealers. Though it's hard to say that this pricing makes the company a scam or even that it makes the company unethical, it does mean that you'll have to pay too much if you choose to buy gold here.
Other Various Fees
You're also going to have to end up paying certain fees if you work with the company. If you choose to have an IRA through Lear, for example, you will need to pay them one hundred sixty dollars per year for maintenance. This all-inclusive price includes not only storage and insurance but also online access and financial statements. You'll also need to pay to ship if you end up having metals shipped to you. Luckily, most of the shipping prices here fall within the industry norms.
Lear Capital has a buyback program like most companies that offer precious metals. This program allows buyers to sell back their metals to the company when they're ready to liquidate their holdings. Still, it's important to remember that you have to call the company to determine if your holdings are eligible for a buyback.
One thing to note is that Lear Capital does all of its buybacks at spot prices. If you sell money back to them, you'll sell bullion because the sale will be based on the metal's price. If you choose to sell a collector coin, you're not going to get the full value because the company doesn't do buybacks based on the demand price.
Complaints, Lawsuits, and Controversy
While Lear Capital does seem to operate in many of the same ways as its competitors on paper, that doesn't mean that things always work out as you'd like. Most of the controversy surrounding this company falls into a few different categories.
Hidden Fees: There are various complaints on the Better Business Bureau website about this company's fees. There are many claims that the company charges unlisted fees that go up to thirty-three percent.
Why won't you see these fees on Lear Capital's website? Simply put, it's because they got sued over those very same fees. Lear not only charged far more than any other reputable company but did so in as underhanded a way as possible. Lear Capital went out of its way to ensure there could be no paper trail of their actions while bilking customers for all they could.
Shipping Problems: Another major complaint comes from a customer who claims that he ordered one-ounce coins but received a shipment of half-ounce coins, which means that the item he received had less than half the original purchase value.
Buyback Issues: Another big complaint was about buying back coins at the spot price. This is just an issue regarding collector coins, though, as it seems like the company doesn't have such issues when it comes to buying back investment-grade coins or bars.
Customer Service Woes: Every investor should expect great customer service from their investment company. Unfortunately, Lear's customer service doesn't have a great reputation according to many reviews. Not only are there a few complaints about how the company handles customers in general, but there are a few complaints that point out that the company's representatives have hidden losses from customers in the past.
Questionable Sales Tactics: Finally, there are complaints that the company's sales force is much pushier than one would expect from an investment company. The company has a reputation for trying to stay in contact with potential customers until they make a sale, even if the customer says that they are uninterested.
The company also has plenty of legal forms for customers to sign to ensure that they aren't seen legally as anything other than simple sellers of precious metals. Yet, the company also positions itself as an authority in the precious metals market. What this means for customers is that the company is focused on getting them to make purchases rather than ensuring that they get help with the kind of investments they need to make.
Pros and Cons
Are They Trustworthy?
On the one hand, this company is a BBB and BCA accredited entity that has well-regarded leadership. On the other though, there are numerous complaints against the company. There's not a lot of balance here, though, and it's pretty easy to see why some would be loathed to work with Lear Capital.
The vast majority of complaints about this company have to do with prices. Consumers claim that the company not only charges too much for coins but that the company doesn't have fair buyback rules. In fact, many simply claim that they ended up losing money just by investing with Lear Capital.
Are They a Good Fit For You?
There is certainly something attractive about working with a full-service company. After all, knowing that you can do everything in one place is exactly what a busy investor wants. Knowing that a company can do it all certainly brings a certain level of consumer confidence.
That said, it's hard to recommend this company to anyone looking to start investing in precious metals. Regardless of what's happened in the last year or so, the fact that this company has had such a bad reputation for its actions makes it hard to trust them. Given that so many companies out there function ethically, it just doesn't make sense to work with a company that won't be on its best behavior with your money.