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Transferring My IRAs From TIAA-Cref to Vanguard

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Yesterday, Vanguard announced they have simplified their account fees. Effective on Thursday, here is the new fee structure.

* All fund accounts with a balance of less than $10,000 will be assessed a yearly fee of $20.

Now that’s straightforward. In the old configuration, my recently-opened 2006 SEP IRA would have been charged $20 anyway. So why am I so happy with this change?

Banking Deal: Earn 1.75% APY on an FDIC-insured money market account at CIT Bank.

Because there are several ways the new $20 fee can be avoided completely by

* keeping each fund account balance over $10,000;
* maintaining total assets at Vanguard at $100,000 or more; or,
* signing up for electronic delivery of all documents, like prospectuses and statements.

With my assets at Vanguard totaling up to only about $3,000, it’s pretty clear which option was my choice.

Vanguard LogoI have a Roth IRA and another SEP IRA at TIAA-Cref. The problems I’ve had with this organization, while they have settled down except for a request from their lawyers to remove their logo from this page, are well documented. Most importantly, the mutual funds at Vanguard that match up with the mutual funds at TIAA-Cref have lower expense ratios.

The two funds currently invested in my Roth IRA at TIAA-Cref can theoretically be transferred to Vanguard because the balances are each above the $3,000 threshold. My 2005 SEP IRA isn’t above that level, but I may be able to combine it with my 2006 SEP IRA, already at Vanguard, if I don’t mind changing my asset allocation. The 2005 SEP IRA is invested in an international index fund, and the 2006 SEP IRA is invested in the total stock market index fund.

I’d rather have all of my accounts at Vanguard, so I’ll be looking to make this transfer in the next few weeks.

Updated October 21, 2015 and originally published April 27, 2007.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Ha, this is the first time I remember reading about TIAA lawyers. After reading that, I am even less likely to recommend them to others. Instead of issuing a letter like “We’re sorry XXX happened, and here are the things we are doing to fix it: XXX”, you get a letter to remove a logo?!? ‘Cause I was really going to confuse this site with TIAA-CREF’s official page :P

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avatar 2 Anonymous

I was locked out of my TIAA-CREF account for 6 months. There is an easy solution: file a formal complaint with the SEC. That got my problem solved. If you just complain to TIAA they will tell you they are “investigating” the problem, but will do nothing. It is amazing how much incompetence this company can display without consequences.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Transfers can be a pain. Although Vanguard is excellent, and carries some of the best funds and expense ratios around. I, too, like to keep my banking as simple as possible by combining multiple accounts when necessary.

What’s the transaction fee for the transfer? Most roth IRA accounts cost you a small transfer fee when you switch. I’m considering Vanguard as well. Do you know the fee?

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Great work, Luke, but it has been over a year since your
post about moving funds to Vanguard. What happened?
Anything besides frustration with TIAA-Crap?

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