Independent Review of the American National WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity
What’s covered in this Review?
In this review we’ll cover the following information on the WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity:
- Product Type
- Current Rates
- Realistic long term investment expectations
- What to expect, and what not to expect
As an annuity, the very name Citadel 7 Diamond inspires images of strength and fortitude, however, as an investment, it delivers less than sparkling returns.
This might be alright with you depending on your retirement time frame and overall financial goals, but if you are attracted to this particular annuity due to its principal guarantees, then you should be aware of the drawbacks as well.
Annuities are being sold more and more today as fewer and fewer workers are retiring with traditional pension benefits. The fear of running out of money makes annuities an attractive place to accumulate savings where they can grow tax-deferred and earn some kind of return all while (supposedly) being protected. Thing is, if guaranteeing income is what you need, you should know that even if your principal is protected, your income may not be.
There are many different kinds of annuities out there, and even within the same kind of annuity, you might see different benefits and features, bonus rates and exceptions that can make these products difficult to understand, especially if you aren’t familiar with all the fancy financial lingo.
Generally speaking, an annuity is a long-term investment with surrender periods of 8 or more years and maturity dates that can take you all the way to your 90th birthday. Sign up for the wrong thing, and you could spend a long time in an investment that gives you sub-par results. This can cost you in terms of fees, the risk to your principal, and lost income.
You only get to retire once, which is why you want to choose the best annuity you can to make sure you are getting the best retirement you can afford.
And that is where we come in.
Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Information That You Can Trust
Welcome to AnnuityGator.com, the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of annuity reviews available on the World Wide Web today. If you want to know what an annuity can do for you as compared to what other annuities can do, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to test one annuity against another or just read about how a particular annuity works, we uncover the facts for you so you can do the deciding for yourself.
Who are we? We are a team of experienced financial professionals dedicated to educating investors who are retiring today. We do this because we believe that an informed investor makes better choices, and it’s the details with these annuities can make the difference between a comfortable retirement and running out of money. We think you deserve to know about the details.
If you’ve been searching for annuity information on the web or heard them talked about by friends or family, you’ve no doubt encountered a lot of conflicting opinions. You’ve probably heard things about what a particular annuity can do for you, claims such as:
- Highest Payouts
- Lowest Fees
- Top Rated A+ Companies
- Guaranteed Income For Life
- Get Your Quote Now!
- Get 7-8% Returns With NO Market Risk
These claims sound fantastic, but are any of them true? You’ve come to the right place – and dare we say the only place – where you can actually find out.
Financial salespeople who sell annuities for a living can sometimes make it sound as if their annuity can earn you higher returns or give you more guarantees than other annuities on the market. They might not give you the full picture.
Every guarantee has its cost, either in terms of the return or the availability of your money. This doesn’t mean that all annuities are bad; it just means that you want to look at all the perks and compare them against the drawbacks before you decide whether or not an annuity is right for.
Ready to begin? Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in:
WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity at a Glance:
|Product Name||Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity|
|Issuer||American National Life Insurance Company of New York Standard & Poor’s|
|Phone Number||(866) 490-3163|
Opening Thoughts on the WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity
Founded back in 1905 by W.L. Moody Jr., American National has a strong history of conservative investment philosophy. In fact, Mr. Moody was so thrifty, American National didn’t even pay out dividends to its investors during the early years when it was just a fledgling company.
The conservative approach eventually paid off. American National was incorporated in 2009 and received its license from New York to sell life insurance, annuities and accident and health insurance. Headquartered in Galveston, Texas, they are licensed to sell insurance in 49 states and offer a full portfolio of insurance and pension products through a variety of distribution channels.
Why is this important? Annuities are not FDIC insured but rather they are backed by the claims-paying ability of the insurance company that sells the annuity. Because today’s retirees are living longer than ever before, it’s important to do your homework and look into the company that is issuing the annuity you plan to purchase. Don’t you think you deserve the strength of an A-rated company?
The WealthQuest Citadel 7 offers a strong principal guarantee which promises you won’t lose a dime due to poor stock market performance. This is a positive for anyone who is nearing the time of retirement, however, if you want to structure this money for income, then the performance capabilities of this annuity might not give you what you need.
Although the insurance company guarantees both your principal and a minimum interest rate, the base interest rate does change. With the Citadel 7, the terms of the interest rate look like this:
- All premium payments made during the first 36 months may receive a 2% interest rate bonus (which they call an enhancement) above the current declared interest rate for the FIRST YEAR.
- The minimum guaranteed interest rate is SET at the time you buy the annuity and is guaranteed for the full life of the contract.
- The 2016 base rate for a deposit less than $100,000 is 1.75%.
- For a deposit more than $100,000 the base rate is 1.85%.
- For the first year with the 2% interest rate bonus, you would earn 3.75% for a deposit less than $100,000 and 3.85% on deposits more than $100,000.
After that first year, your interest rate would then return to the minimum guarantee, which may be lower than what you see here depending on the rates on the day you sign up. The current average rate of inflation is 3.22%, which means this fixed annuity comes with some risks you should be aware of.
- After the first year, the rate of inflation will start eroding into your principal.
- There is no cost-of-living adjustment.
- Your income payments are not guaranteed to last the rest of your life.
- There may be steep penalties if you need to take out more than 10% of your annuity.
- There is no spousal protection or guarantees that the insurance company will continue income payments to your spouse in the event of death.
These risks might be okay with you depending on your goals, but if you want to get lifetime income protection for both you and your spouse, then you owe it to yourself to shop around a bit before you invest. We’ve seen annuities out there that might get you more for your money, especially in terms of income protection.
But first, let’s take a brief moment to address a few legal disclosures:
This is an independent product review, not a recommendation to buy or sell an annuity. American National has not endorsed this review in any way nor do we receive any compensation for this review. This review is meant to be an independent review at the request of readers so they could see our perspective when breaking down the positives and negatives of this particular model annuity. Before purchasing any investment product, be sure to do your own due diligence and consult a properly licensed professional should you have specific questions as they relate to your individual circumstances. All names, marks, and materials used for this review are the property of their respective owners.
For more information on how to compare annuities so that you can better determine which one may be the best for you and your financial circumstances, click here to obtain our free annuity report.
How American National Describes The WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Annuity.
American National describes the benefits and features of this annuity on their website as follows:
- An individual flexible premium fixed deferred annuity with a minimum guaranteed interest rate.
- Option to make additional payments on either a scheduled basis or whenever you desire.
- Tax-deferred growth for triple-compounding.
- A 2% interest rate enhancement on all premium payments made within the first 36 months of issuance of the contract.
- 100% guarantee of principal less any withdrawals and surrender charges.
There are also Confinement and Disability waivers available, but this list covers the main attractions. If you want to find the website and/or prospectus, you can click HERE.
How Financial Advisors or Salespersons Might Present This Annuity to You
If you are speaking with an insurance salesperson about this investment, then he or she might not be explaining all the drawbacks to you. Here are the three main concepts you could hear a financial salesperson talk about when trying to sell you this annuity:
- This investment gives you tax-deferred growth so you don’t have to worry about taxes eroding your interest earnings.
- This investment performs better than other annuities out there.
- This investment will give you downside protection and free withdrawals using systematic payments for a fixed amount that may be used for mandatory distributions on your IRA.
Insurance companies can make their annuities sound so good, you might not even realize that the benefits they are talking apply across the board, to all annuities. In other cases, you might already have the benefit and so the feature is meaningless to you. For retirees looking for a place to park their 401(k) savings or IRA money, this is usually the case with the tax-deferred benefit.
- Interest on the amount you invested
- Interest on the interest as it grows
- Interest on the money you don’t have to pay in taxes
Now, if you are using this particular annuity to safeguard your nest egg, then you have already benefitted from tax-deferred growth, furthermore, any deferred annuity that you put your money into is also going to offer you this same benefit.
If you are using this annuity to grow your retirement nest egg, then you need to be aware of the growth limitations that come with this tax-deferred benefit. This speaks to a few of the risks we mentioned earlier: lost opportunity costs, inflation risk, and the inability to capitalize on an improving market.
This annuity also has an 8-year surrender period during which you will be assessed a fee if you want to get to your money. Furthermore, the contract doesn’t mature until the later of:
- Your 90th birthday or
- The 10-year contract anniversary.
Sure, you won’t have taxes eroding into your earnings, but the earnings are so small, you will basically be losing money safely from an inflation standpoint.
Does this investment really perform better than other annuities out there? The enhanced interest rate might sound pretty appealing if you consider that your principal is guaranteed, but remember, this 2% enhancement only applies for the first year. For all the other years, your interest rate goes back down.
After the first two years, the interest changes again, although it is promised to never be less than the minimum guaranteed rate. This brings up three warnings you want to be aware of with the Citadel 7 if you are entering the income phase of life and planning to use this annuity to fund your lifestyle:
Warning #1: Because the interest rate changes, we would caution against basing your income on anything other than the lowest minimum guarantee.
Warning #2: For the first 7 years, the free withdrawals (using systematic payments for a fixed amount or interest-only payments) are ONLY free on 10% of your money.
Warning #3: If you are nearing the magic birthday of 70 ½ and your RMD payments are coming due, be sure that you will have access to enough money.
Warning #4: If you are married and one of you has a pension income that is not guaranteed for the other, then you will want to look closely at whether the minimum withdrawals allowed with this annuity would give the spouse enough income should one of you pass away.
The systematic withdrawal benefits offered by the Citadel 7 might appeal to the thrifty person who wants to retire on the cheap – but it can be an expensive way to get your income if you make a mistake and miss something. If you live longer than expected, for example, and your account runs dry, there is no safety net in place.
There are other annuities out there that offer living benefits with riders that, for a small fee, can guarantee that the income will be there for as long as you need it. These riders also make sure that the payment amount will continue should one spouse pass away. Some riders also offer cost-of-living adjustments that increase your payment amounts over time, which is one way to better prepare for inflation and the higher cost of health care needs down the road.
How do you find out about these other annuities? You can poke around the Internet some more, or you can just GO HERE and fill out our form. We specialize in helping investors compare one kind of annuity against another, so you can learn more about the options available to you.
What About the Fees?
Annuities can be expensive investments to own, but the WealthQuest Citadel 7 does a nice job of keeping its fees low. They don’t charge you an annual administration charge like some insurance companies (to do what we don’t know – shuffle papers around?)
Second, they also don’t charge you a sales charge to get into the annuity. It used to be common practice to charge what was called a front-load fee or sales charge. This fee would immediately reduce the amount of your initial payment, crippling your investment before you even got started. This has been very unpopular with investors and so many insurance companies have dropped this charge. Before you buy any annuity, make sure you ask about this sales charge, because there are plenty of annuities – and most fixed annuities – that don’t assess this harmful fee.
With the Citadel 7, the amount(s) of your deposit or premium goes into your policy and this amount less any withdrawal amounts and surrender charges is what you are guaranteed to have when you surrender the policy.
The thing to watch out for are the surrender charges. If you want to access your money anytime during the first 7 years that you own this policy, here is a breakdown of what those fees look like:
Surrender Charge during first 7 years:
- 7% from 1 to 3 years
- 6% at 4 years
- 5% at 5 years
- 4% at 6 years
- 2% at 7 years
- 0% at 8 years
- Withdrawal Charge: You can access 10% free. After that, surrender charges apply for first 7 years.
- Front End Sales Fee: 0%
- Annual Administration Fee: 0%
Fee Total: 0% to .07%
Please be aware that if you withdraw money from your annuity BEFORE you turn age 59 ½ (even if you retired early!) you may have to pay a 10% tax penalty to the Internal Revenue Service on top of any taxes you owe on the income. In addition, you may also have to pay steep surrender charges if the withdrawal happens during the first seven years of this annuity contract.
The Annuity Gator’s End-Take on the WealthQuest Citadel 7 Diamond Fixed Annuity.
Where it works best:
- For investors who are already participating in their company 401(k) or retirement savings plan and want an additional place to save tax-deferred.
- For the mature investor who wants to save but does NOT want any market risk.
- As a supplement to stock market investments.
- As a low-fee source of income during retirement.
- For the investor who does not need access to emergency funds for 8 or more years.
- For the mature investor who wants to self-fund their future long-term care costs.
Where it works WORST:
- For the investor who needs access to their money.
- For retirees who want to keep up with the average rate of inflation.
- For investors who need an annual income greater than 10% of their savings.
- For younger investors who have a longer time period to save.
The WealthQuest Citadel 7 gives you principal guarantees and low fees, but the surrender penalties are steep and the interest rates promised don’t earn you much money.
In terms of growth, the bonus interest rate promised by this annuity is temporary, and the interest changes every two years and may be higher or lower than the originally declared rate. The only interest rate that is guaranteed is the minimum rate, and this rate isn’t high enough to keep up with the average annual rate of inflation.
As an income producing investment, this annuity can give you free systematic payments as long as you don’t need to access more than 10% of your money annually for the first seven years.
So what does all this mean to you? The biggest concerns with using this annuity for your retirement are income and inflation. If you already have your income needs being taken care of for you and your spouse, then you might think of this investment as a CD alternative with a longer time frame. If you’re looking for greater income guarantees, there are other annuities out there that offer living benefits that guarantee a higher enhancement rate for a longer period of time. These riders also make sure that payments will continue should one spouse pass away.
To find out if this is the best annuity for your situation, we invite you to have it tested HERE.
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