Is iShares Gold Trust a Good Investment?

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Investing in gold has always been a topic of interest for many.

Among the various options available, iShares Gold Trust (IAU) stands out as a significant player.

But is it a good investment?

Let's dive deep into this question, drawing from our extensive research and experience.

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iShares Gold Trust Overview

iShares Gold Trust (IAU) stands out in the gold investment landscape for its simplicity and effectiveness.

It's not just about tracking the gold spot price; it's about offering a practical and accessible route into gold investment.

This trust has grown significantly since its inception in January 2005, with net assets of over $25 billion as of January 2024. It's a testament to its popularity and the trust investors place in it. The key to IAU's appeal lies in its straightforward approach: it provides exposure to the day-to-day movement of gold prices, offering a convenient and cost-effective way to access physical gold. 

This makes it an attractive option for those looking to diversify their portfolios and protect against inflation. The Trust's performance over the years, mirroring the fluctuations of gold prices, demonstrates its effectiveness as an investment vehicle. Its sponsor fee of 0.25% is a small price to pay for the convenience and potential benefits it offers.

Basics of Gold as an Investment

Gold's enduring status as a wealth symbol and value store is rooted in its unique qualities. It's not just another commodity; it's a finite resource with a history of maintaining value over time. This makes it a go-to asset during periods of economic uncertainty.

When currencies weaken or inflation rises, gold often stands strong, maintaining or even increasing its value. This stability is a key reason why investors turn to gold as a safe haven. It's not just about preserving wealth; it's about having an asset that can weather economic storms. 

Gold's performance during recessions and financial crises has reinforced its reputation as a reliable investment. However, it's important to remember that like any investment, gold prices can fluctuate, and it's not immune to market forces. But its historical performance and intrinsic value continue to make it a sought-after asset in diversified investment portfolios.

How iShares Gold Trust Works

iShares Gold Trust offers a unique blend of simplicity and exposure to gold. When you invest in IAU, you're essentially buying a share of the gold held by the Trust. This approach eliminates the need for physical storage and insurance, which are significant barriers to gold investment. The Trust's holdings are substantial, with over 12 million ounces of gold in the trust. This scale is a clear indicator of the Trust's success and reliability. 

The process is straightforward: the Trust buys gold, and the value of your shares corresponds to a portion of this gold, minus the Trust's expenses. This method provides a direct link to the gold market, allowing investors to benefit from gold price movements without the complexities of handling the metal.

It's a smart way to invest in gold, especially for those who want to avoid the logistical challenges of physical gold ownership. The Trust's structure, backed by physical gold holdings, offers a tangible sense of security, making it an appealing option for a wide range of investors.

Performance Analysis of iShares Gold Trust

iShares Gold Trust (IAU) has been a reliable mirror of gold prices since its inception in January 2005. With net assets totaling over $25 billion as of 2024, it's clear that investors have shown significant trust in this fund.

The performance of IAU is closely tied to the LBMA Gold Price, which is the international benchmark for the price of gold. It's crucial to understand that while IAU has mirrored gold's price movements, it's also subject to market fluctuations and economic conditions that affect gold prices globally. 

For instance, during times of economic uncertainty, gold prices, and consequently IAU's value, may rise as investors seek safe-haven assets. Conversely, in a robust economic environment, gold prices might stagnate or fall, impacting IAU similarly. This correlation with gold prices makes IAU an interesting option for those looking to invest in gold indirectly, but it's essential to keep an eye on global economic trends and gold market dynamics.

Pros & Cons


  • Ease of Trading: IAU shares can be bought and sold like any other stock on the NYSE Arca. This flexibility allows investors to trade shares quickly and efficiently, adapting to market changes or personal financial needs.
  • Lower Expenses: The Trust has a relatively low sponsor fee of 0.25%, making it a cost-effective option compared to owning physical gold, which involves additional costs like insurance and storage.
  • No Need for Storage: Since IAU invests in physical gold, investors don’t have to worry about the security and logistics of storing gold bullion. This removes a significant barrier for many who wish to invest in gold.
  • Diversification: Gold is often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation. Investing in IAU offers an easy way to add gold to your portfolio, helping to diversify and potentially reduce overall investment risk.
  • Transparency and Liquidity: IAU provides transparency in its operations, with regular updates on the amount of gold held in trust. Its liquidity is also a key advantage, as shares can be traded throughout the trading day at market-determined prices.


  • Lacks Tangibility: Unlike physical gold, investing in IAU doesn’t give investors the tangible asset feel. Some investors prefer the physical possession of gold for its intrinsic value and as a physical hedge against systemic risks.
  • Potential Trust-Related Risks: As with any trust structure, there are inherent risks. These include the Trust’s ability to accurately track the price of gold and the potential impact of large-scale redemptions or sales on the Trust’s performance.
  • Market Price Fluctuations: The price of IAU shares is subject to market fluctuations. While it aims to track the price of gold, the share price can be influenced by investor sentiment and market dynamics, which may not always reflect the underlying gold price.

Comparison with Other Gold Investment Options

Comparing IAU to other gold investment options reveals its unique position in the market. Unlike physical gold, which requires secure storage and insurance, IAU offers a more liquid and easily tradable form of gold investment.

This ease of trading is a significant advantage for investors who wish to move in and out of gold positions quickly. However, in extreme market conditions, the security of owning physical gold might outweigh the benefits of liquidity offered by IAU. 

On the other hand, gold mining stocks, while potentially offering higher returns, carry risks associated with the mining industry, such as operational risks, environmental concerns, and the impact of geopolitical events.

These risks are not directly related to the price of gold and can cause gold mining stocks to deviate significantly from the performance of gold itself. Therefore, IAU presents a middle ground, offering exposure to gold prices without the complexities and risks associated with physical gold or gold mining stocks.

Tax Considerations and Implications

Investing in IAU, like any other investment in precious metals, comes with specific tax considerations. Our findings show that the gains realized from selling IAU shares are subject to capital gains tax.

This tax treatment is similar to that of other securities but differs from physical gold in some jurisdictions. For long-term investors, understanding these tax implications is crucial, as they can affect the overall return on investment. 

It's also important to note that IAU does not pay any dividends, as it is a trust that directly holds gold. Therefore, the primary return on investment comes from capital appreciation. Investors should consult with tax professionals to understand how investing in IAU fits into their overall tax strategy and to ensure compliance with all relevant tax regulations.

Who Should Consider Investing in iShares Gold Trust?

IAU is particularly suitable for investors looking for a straightforward way to gain exposure to gold. It's an excellent option for those seeking to diversify their investment portfolio or hedge against inflation and currency devaluation. Since IAU tracks the price of gold, it can be a valuable asset in a diversified portfolio, especially during times of economic uncertainty or high inflation. 

However, it's important to note that IAU, like any investment in gold, can be volatile and does not provide regular income like dividend-paying stocks or bonds. Therefore, it may not be the best fit for investors who need regular income or are not comfortable with the price fluctuations associated with gold. Ultimately, investing in IAU should align with the investor's overall financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.


Can I use iShares Gold Trust as part of my retirement portfolio?

Yes, iShares Gold Trust (IAU) can be included in retirement portfolios, such as IRAs. It offers a way to diversify your retirement savings with exposure to gold, which can act as a hedge against inflation and market volatility.

However, it's important to consider how it fits with your overall retirement strategy and risk tolerance. Consulting a financial advisor can help determine the appropriate allocation of IAU in your retirement portfolio.

How does the liquidity of iShares Gold Trust compare to physical gold?

iShares Gold Trust (IAU) typically offers higher liquidity compared to physical gold. This is because IAU shares can be easily bought and sold on the stock market during trading hours, similar to stocks. This ease of transaction is a significant advantage over physical gold, which requires finding a buyer and potentially dealing with transportation and verification processes.

Are there any specific market conditions where iShares Gold Trust performs particularly well or poorly?

iShares Gold Trust (IAU) tends to perform well during periods of economic uncertainty, inflation, and currency devaluation, as investors often turn to gold as a safe haven.

Conversely, in strong economic conditions with rising interest rates, gold, and consequently IAU, may underperform as investors seek higher returns from other assets. However, market conditions are unpredictable, and past performance is not always indicative of future results.

Protect Your Retirement Savings - Without Taxes or Penalties!


As indicated by our tests, iShares Gold Trust can be a good investment for those looking to add gold to their portfolio in a convenient way. However, it's important to consider your investment goals, risk tolerance, and the overall market conditions. As with any investment, it's advisable to consult with a financial advisor to ensure it aligns with your investment strategy.

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