Does a Roth IRA Earn Interest?

Understanding how Roth IRAs grow over time

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A Roth IRA is an investment account that allows you to contribute after-tax income in order to eventually take money out of the account tax-free during retirement. Over time, you invest the money within this account into various opportunities, including stocks, mutual funds, or even certificates of deposit.

In each case, when you put your money in your Roth IRA toward a particular investment, you earn a return, sometimes expressed as interest. These rates usually vary, but the goal is to take advantage of compounding interest, where each return you gain is reinvested to grow your money further over time. Learn more about how a Roth IRA earns interest and if it’s a good saving and investment strategy for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Roth IRAs are accounts where you can invest in a variety of assets, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Your assets grow in value or yield a return on investment that compounds over time.
  • While your Roth IRA will grow over time, most do not have all of your funds in one investment that earns a guaranteed interest rate per year. Instead, your rate of return will fluctuate based on the riskiness of your portfolio and the market that year.

How Does a Roth IRA Grow?

Roth IRAs don’t have to contain only one thing, such as 100% shares in a given company’s stock or 100% municipal bonds. Instead, your assets are generally considered well-invested if your IRA is diversified. This means that some parts of your money are invested in high-growth opportunities, such as mutual funds, and other money is invested in steady, low-risk opportunities, such as certificates of deposit (CDs).

Depending on your age and how soon you plan to retire, you may choose to invest more aggressively, taking on more risk and therefore often achieving higher yield. This is more common for younger investors who have a longer time for the market to “bounce back” if it needs to. As an investor nearing retirement, you may decide to invest in a way that keeps your money in a low-risk portfolio, where it grows a little but has less risk of losing major value in a market shock. Some investors also have a personal preference, independent of their age, for more risk or more stability.

What Determines a Roth IRA’s Interest Rate?

The main determiners of your interest rate, defined in this case as the total yearly growth you see in your Roth IRA portfolio, include any published interest rates for your money market accounts or CDs in your IRA. This may also include the performance of individual stocks, bonds, and shares of mutual funds that you hold.

For example, if you invest in shares of an index fund, a fund that has stocks from a wide variety of companies, your yearly growth may mirror the overall market—doing very well when the average of the stock market’s returns is high, and returning less or even taking a loss if the market experiences a downturn.

How To Maximize Your Rate of Return

Maximizing your rate of return may have multiple meanings depending on who you are, since higher returns tend to be possible on higher-risk investment assets. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “high risk, high reward,” you start to get the picture of how bigger rates of return tend to be accomplished by risking a potential loss if a recession or other downturn occurs.

Some high rates of return tend to come from investments in the stock market or in funds made up of different stocks. Maximizing your rate of return over the long run isn’t possible unless you’ve got a way to predict the future, but you can rely on historical risk and return data and opt for more aggressive, high-return investments that have paid off for investors in the past.

The Bottom Line

Roth IRAs, like other investment accounts, yield returns that correspond to the assets and investments that are within the account. While this doesn’t guarantee an interest rate for the entire account, it does mean you can typically find out how much your portfolio has gained at the end of a year. Furthermore, you experience the benefits of compounding interest, since any gains in a given year are typically available to be reinvested, with more growth possible from the new, larger size of the portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often does a Roth IRA compound interest?

While individual investments within the Roth IRA may compound interest at different rates, you can usually calculate a Roth IRA’s yearly rate of return using tools provided by the company that holds your IRA and see how interest has compounded.

How much will a Roth IRA grow in 20 years?

While a $6,000 initial deposit in a Roth IRA can grow to $23,218 in 20 years at a 7% annual rate of return, it will grow much more if you continue to make monthly or yearly contributions to the Roth IRA. For instance, if you contribute the yearly maximum of $6,000 for 20 years, your money will grow to $269,191.

How much can you contribute to a Roth IRA?

In 2022, individuals who are younger than 50 years old can usually contribute up to $6,000 to their Roth IRA, less any contributions to a traditional IRA, since the limit applies to the total placed in both of those accounts. Individuals older than age 50 are eligible to contribute an additional $1,000, bringing their total to $7,000. Roth IRAs are also subject to income restrictions, so check to see whether your income is too high to contribute this much to a Roth IRA.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wilmington Trust. “The Importance of a Well-Diversified Portfolio.”

  2. Securities and Exchange Commis​​sion. “Risk and Return,” Page 5.

  3. Alabama Securities Commission. “Maximize Your Retirement Investments.”

  4. IRS. “Retirement Topics - IRA Contribution Limits.”

  5. IRS. “Amount of Roth IRA Contributions That You Can Make for 2022.”

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