Here at we’re often asked, “which annuity is best?”

Truth is, it really depends on specifically what you’re looking for, as well as what works best within your specific financial plan. Anyone who says otherwise most likely has an axe to grind – or is trying really hard to sell you something.

That said, certain financial products / strategies really are better than others at realizing specific objectives. Below, is a table that helps illustrate this pretty well:

Fixed Indexed Annuity
Variable Annuity
Non Annuity
Highest Minimum Guaranteed Return
Highest Potential Return
Highest Income Guarantee (via riders)
Lowest Cost
Most Flexibility
Most Potential for Loss

What we did here is looked at various things that might be important to an investor, and then identified with a simple check mark the very general investment strategy / product that works best. By no means is this exhaustive, but it does provide some key takeaways when considering the options you have as an investor.

So What is the Best Annuity?

As you can see from the table, if you’re looking for:

  • The highest minimum guaranteed return

One of the primary reasons was started is to act as a consumer advocate. We want to provide unbiased annuity education so readers can make more informed decisions regarding annuities; and ultimately, make sure investors use annuities the right and have proper expectations.

As a result, Annuity Gator has become one of the most popular annuity websites in the USA with tens of thousands of visitors each month. We also get thousands of messages via our secure contact form from investors asking questions and sharing their experience dealing with annuity agents. From all these questions and feedback, we’ve learned that there is a lot of really bad annuity advice out there:

  • Flat out lies about how products work
  • Exaggerated return expectations
  • Annuity sales pitches 100% motivated by agent commissions and not investor benefit
  • And lots more

In today’s post I’ll share some of the recent questions/comments that have come in from website visitors and offer feedback on how to spot really bad annuity advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation, hopefully this will help you spot the crummy agents and avoid a potentially very expensive (bad) financial decision.

Maybe you’ve seen the advertisements from Fisher Investments that offer a free report on why Ken Fisher hates annuities? If not, here’s the ad that’s been popping up on various websites I visit often:

The ad as it appears on Google Finance

The ad as it appears on Google Finance

For those not familiar with Ken Fisher and why he’s a very note worthy figure in the investment world, here is the first paragraph on Mr. Fisher per

Kenneth Lawrence Fisher (born November 29, 1950) is an American investment analyst, and the founder, chairman, and CEO of Fisher Investments, a money management firm with offices in WoodsideCaliforniaSan Mateo, California, and Camas, Washington. Fisher writes a monthly column in Forbes magazine, contributes to other financial and news magazines, has written seven books, and has written research papers in the field of behavioral finance. Fisher is on the 2011 Forbes 400 list of richest Americans[3] and Forbes list of world billionaires, and as of 2011 was worth $1.7 billion.[4] In 2010, he was named to Investment Advisor magazine’s “30 for 30″ list of the 30 most influential people on the investment advisory business over the last 30 years.[5] As of 2010, Fisher’s firm manages $41.3 billion in 38,521 customer accounts[6] and has been called the largest wealth manager in the United States.[7]

What’s Covered in this American Equity Bonus Gold Annuity Review?

In today’s review, I’ll be covering the following information on the American Equity Bonus Gold Annuity with Lifetime Income Benefit Rider (LIBR):

  • Product type
  • Fees
  • Current rates
  • Realistic long term investment expectations
  • How it is best used
  • How it is most poorly used

The Bonus Gold annuity from American Equity is a fixed index annuity with available riders that provide lifetime income guarantees.  There are elements conservative retirees may find desirable, but there are also details some agents might say about its potential performance that are not entirely true.  It’s important you understand the differences (between what advisors say, and how the product really works), so you can determine if it really is a good fit as part of your financial plan.

Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Education You Can Actually Trust

For readers who have found this website for the first time and don’t know much about me, I am a fee only financial planner and supremely proud math geek. I don’t get paid to sell annuities, nor do I personally sell annuities.

There’s always new annuity products coming out, some different, some the just rehashes of the same old stuff. One new thing that’s popped up recently is the Transparent Value Blended Index as a crediting method in the Security Benefit Total Value Annuity (TVA). We’ve published an in-depth review of the TVA you can find here. That review, however, was made before this new index.

So let’s dig in, and see if the TVBI is going to make a big improvement.

Transparent Value Blended Index: Better than Sliced Bread and Power Steering?

This new crediting method is based on a new index. The general principal of the index is to avoid stocks that do not have a high probability of reaching certain sales/revenue goals in order to justify their current share price. In other words, avoid the stocks that could go down in price.

On the surface this is a good idea. The downside, of course, is that’s the very thing thousands of money managers have been trying to do for a hundred years (mostly failing). When looking at a crediting method, always be careful. Some agents don’t always do a great job of explaining how they work. Worse, some will suggest returns are possible, that simply are not.