What Is a Cryptocurrency Roth IRA?

Sponsored by What's this?
Person using a smartphone

Ranta Images / Getty Images


Cryptocurrency Roth IRA is a retirement account that, unlike a regular Roth IRA, allows exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, and others. It is a self-directed Roth IRA that allows you to directly invest after-tax dollars in digital assets and benefit from tax-free gains.

Definition and Example of Cryptocurrency Roth IRA

A cryptocurrency Roth IRA is a self-directed Roth IRA designed to invest in cryptocurrencies. Roth IRAs are funded with money you’ve already paid tax on, so withdrawals (subject to certain conditions) typically are tax-free. Cryptocurrency Roth IRAs allow you to reap those tax benefits on cryptocurrency investments.

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency managed using a blockchain. A blockchain is a public database that acts as an undisputable ledger tracking cryptocurrency transactions held by a distributed network of computers called miners.

There are many self-directed IRA providers, such as TrustCapital, Alto, Rocket Dollar, Bitcoin IRA, and BitIRA, that offer cryptocurrency Roth IRAs.

How Does a Cryptocurrency Roth IRA Work?

Roth IRAs are designed to be funded with after-tax money, and qualified distributions (withdrawals that meet a certain criteria) are tax-free. The IRS sets rules for income eligibility, annual contribution limits, and even places some restrictions on investments.

Under IRS rules, IRAs have some restrictions on investing in property. The IRS also treats virtual currencies as property, but doesn’t explicitly state if cryptocurrency investments in Roth IRAs are prohibited. That makes cryptocurrency investments in Roth IRAs a little complicated.


Most brokerages do not allow direct cryptocurrency investments in Roth IRAs.

This is where self-directed Roth IRAs come into the picture. Custodians for self-directed IRAs allow for investments across many alternative assets that brokerages typically do not allow in IRAs.

The biggest benefit of a cryptocurrency Roth IRA is tax-free investment growth. If you keep your money in your cryptocurrency Roth IRA until you are 59 1/2 years of age and for five years after your first contribution, among other things, you may be able to withdraw your funds without paying any tax on the contributions or the earnings. That could be a huge savings if cryptocurrencies grow in value in the long run.

Types of Cryptocurrency Roth IRA

Cryptocurrency Roth IRA accounts work differently depending on where you open them. The following are the main types of accounts you may find when looking to invest in cryptocurrencies for retirement:

  • Dedicated cryptocurrency Roth IRA: With a dedicated cryptocurrency Roth IRA, the account is designed specifically for investments in cryptocurrency. You may be limited from investing in anything else with some providers.
  • Checkbook Roth IRA: A checkbook IRA gives you the ability to invest in just about anything allowed by the IRS, including real estate and cryptocurrency.

Do I Need Cryptocurrency Roth IRA?

Most investors do not need a cryptocurrency Roth IRA. However, if you wish to invest in cryptocurrencies directly in your retirement accounts, you may need one.


Cryptocurrencies are risky and volatile investments. Cryptocurrency may not be appropriate for your Roth IRA.

As with any investment, it’s best to only put your money into something you understand and expect to perform well in the future.

Alternatives to Cryptocurrency Roth IRA

You have a couple of additional routes to gain exposure to cryptocurrency in your Roth IRA without a specific cryptocurrency Roth IRA.

While most brokerages will not allow you to directly purchase cryptocurrency in a Roth IRA account, you could consider investing in a cryptocurrency mutual fund or ETF. These are professionally managed funds that purchase cryptocurrencies on your behalf. However, they may charge high fees to investors, cutting into your investment gains. Another option is to buy a stock related to the cryptocurrency marketplace. Some companies work in cryptocurrency-related industries or hold digital currencies, giving stockholders exposure to cryptocurrency indirectly.

Cryptocurrency IRA Pros and Cons

  • Invest in cryptocurrency for retirement

  • Easy cryptocurrency transactions through a crypto brokerage

  • Diversify into new investment categories

  • High risk and volatility

  • Account costs and fees

  • Lack of transparency

Pros Explained

  • Invest in cryptocurrency for retirement: Unlock digital currencies as a retirement investment with potential tax savings.
  • Easy cryptocurrency transactions through a crypto brokerage: Buy and sell cryptocurrency through your account without the need for an external cryptocurrency wallet.
  • Diversify into new investment categories: Go beyond traditional investments such as stocks and bonds to include a new asset class in your portfolio.

Cons Explained

  • High risk and volatility: Cryptocurrency is highly volatile and comes with a major risk of loss.
  • Account costs and fees: Some providers charge ongoing fees, trading fees, or a combination. Stay aware of fees to avoid overpaying.
  • Lack of transparency: According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), risks of self-directed IRAs include lack of disclosure, liquidity, and fraud.

How To Get a Cryptocurrency Roth IRA

If you’re interested in a cryptocurrency Roth IRA, start by researching cryptocurrency Roth IRA providers. Focus on available currencies, trading fees, and ongoing costs when picking a cryptocurrency Roth account.

To open an account, you’ll need to provide contact information and personal details including your Social Security number. Depending on the provider and your typing speed, you may be able to get up and running with a new account in 10 minutes or less.

Key Takeaways

  • Cryptocurrency Roth IRAs allow you to invest after-tax money in digital currencies for retirement.
  • Cryptocurrency tax IRAs are self-directed IRAs since not all brokerages support cryptocurrencies.
  • Under certain rules, cryptocurrency Roth IRA withdrawals can be tax-free.
  • Highly risky and volatile cryptocurrencies may not be suitable for retirement accounts.

Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning!

Was this page helpful?
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. IRS. “Roth IRAs.”

  2. IRS. "Publication 590-A (2021), Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).”

  3. IRS. "Virtual Currencies."

  4. IRS. “Publication 590-B (2020), Distributions From Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).”

  5. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Investor Alert: Self-Directed IRAs and the Risk of Fraud."

Related Articles