Answers to your most important questions about what we do

The basics

What's a 401(k) rollover?

It’s the technical term for when you transfer money from a 401(k) to another retirement savings account, usually an IRA. A rollover is what most people choose to do with the money they’ve saved in their 401(k) account when leaving a job. A rollover is different from a withdrawal, which is when you pull your money out of a 401(k) and pay taxes on it. A rollover is usually tax-free, though there are exceptions if you choose to roll over a traditional 401(k) to a Roth IRA (also known as a Roth conversion).

Why do people do 401(k) rollovers?

If you recently left a job where you had a 401(k) account, there can be several advantages to rolling over your savings into an IRA or a new 401(k). You can also consolidate multiple 401(k)s into one new IRA so you can better keep track of your retirement assets in one place.

What's the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA?

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows employees to save for retirement. You can only get a 401(k) account if your company provides a 401(k) plan. Most of the contributions to 401(k)s are made from your paycheck, though sometimes an employer makes ‘matching’ contributions. When you leave the company you lose your ability to make contributions to a 401(k). 

An IRA is short for “individual retirement account”. It’s a type of account that you can open on your own, and isn’t tied to your employer. It’s also an account where you can transfer any 401(k) savings you accumulated at a prior job. Think of it as a big pot that you pour your 401(k) gold into over time. People often like to transfer their former 401(k)s into an IRA because it offers them more visibility and control.

How can I do a rollover?

That’s where Capitalize comes in. We help manage every step of the 401(k) rollover process for you, from locating your 401(k) to helping you pick a new IRA and handling the transfer.

What if I don't know where my 401(k) is?

Try our 401(k) search tool! We’ve compiled a database of over 60,000 employers and their 401(k) providers. Start by searching for your employer’s name to determine your 401(k) provider. If we don’t have your employer on file, our team of rollover experts can help you track it down if you decide to do a 401(k) rollover with us.

I'm not 100% sure if I had a 401(k) at my old job. How can I check?

You can find out if you have an old 401(k) by either using our 401(k) search tool, reaching out to someone in the HR department at your previous job, or checking your W-2 forms from previous tax returns. If you contributed to a 401(k), you’ll usually see an amount in Box 12 of your W-2 from that employer. 401(k) contributions will typically show up with the letter code D.

Can I transfer my old 401(k) account to a new 401(k) account?

If you are currently enrolled in a 401(k) plan then that plan provider might allow you to transfer in old 401(k) plans. It generally takes longer than a rollover into an IRA and you’ll be subject to the fees and investment choices negotiated by your employer. This is a valid option when you change jobs, even though most people who roll over choose to do so into an IRA.

Should I roll over into an IRA or my new employer's 401(k) plan?

Everyone’s situation is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. More people roll over into an IRA instead of a 401(k) because IRAs generally offer lower fees and more diverse investment options, but rolling over into a 401(k) is also a valid option. We’ve laid out additional differences between 401(k)s and IRAs to help you evaluate your options.

Can I just cash out my old 401(k)?

Taking an early distribution from your 401(k) is an option, especially if you need money quickly in an emergency. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll likely pay taxes and penalties on your withdrawal, and this decision may negatively impact your financial readiness for retirement. There are also other reasons a rollover may be better than taking a withdrawal that you should consider.

Can you help me roll over all my old 401(k) accounts?

Yes, Capitalize can help consolidate all of your old 401(k) accounts. When you sign up for our service, you can add multiple 401(k)s to roll over. Our team will reach out to guide you through each plan’s rollover process!

Will I have to pay taxes or penalties for rolling over my 401(k) account?

Rollovers from a 401(k) are generally tax-free, though there are exceptions if you want to do a special Roth conversion.

How long does the rollover process take?

The exact processing time of a rollover depends on the 401(k) institution involved — it can vary from a few days to a few weeks.

Can I roll over my 401(k) into a SEP IRA?

Typically, you can roll a 401(k) into a SEP IRA, but the process can vary. It’s important to understand your IRA provider’s requirements before initiating a transfer — we can help track down those requirements and get your rollover processed!

I have a Roth IRA — can I move my 401(k) into that?

Yes, but it can be a little more complicated than a typical rollover. Moving money from a traditional 401(k) to a Roth IRA is usually a two-step process: first, you’ll move your Traditional 401(k) to a Traditional IRA. Then, your IRA provider will move your Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA (this is known as a “Roth conversion”). Keep in mind that most Roth conversions are taxable, so it’s a good idea to talk to a tax professional if you decide to go down this path.

What's the difference between a Roth and a Traditional IRA?

The key difference between Roth and Traditional IRAs is when you get your tax break. In a Traditional IRA, your contributions are tax-free and you won’t pay taxes on the money until the time of withdrawal. In a Roth IRA, it’s the opposite — you’ll pay taxes on your contributions into the account but your withdrawals are tax-free.

Our service

What is Capitalize?

Capitalize is a technology company that helps people digitally locate and roll over their old 401(k) accounts through an easy-to-use online platform. Capitalize manages the entire 401(k) rollover process, using proprietary technology and delightful customer service to dramatically simplify the process of transferring and managing retirement accounts.

Why should I use Capitalize to roll over?

We’re an independent platform that will roll over your 401(k). We help manage the entire process — from finding your old 401(k) to helping you pick a new IRA and dealing with your 401(k) provider for you.

Can I use Capitalize to consolidate multiple 401(k)s or IRAs?

Absolutely! We’ll start by helping you choose a new rollover IRA, and then we’ll help you transfer each of your old 401(k)s or IRAs into that new account.

What information do I have to give Capitalize?

We ask for a little information to locate your old 401(k) account, like the name of your 401(k) provider or old employer. We also ask you about your preferences to help compare relevant IRA choices. If you decide to proceed with your rollover then we sometimes have to ask for some personal information, like your date of birth and address, in order to communicate with your 401(k) provider on your behalf.

What criteria does Capitalize use to evaluate IRAs?

We use criteria like fees, public rating scores (where available), and our own review of an IRA provider’s ease of use, customer support, and investment philosophy. We don’t recommend IRA providers, but we allow you to compare and select an option that works for you.

What if I already know where I want to transfer my 401(k)?

We can still help you with that! When completing your rollover with Capitalize, you can select any IRA provider of your choice. We’ll help you transfer your savings into an existing IRA with that provider or help you open a new one.

Can you help me roll over into my current employer's 401(k) plan?

We aren’t set up to help you roll into a new employer’s 401(k) plan yet, but we’re happy to provide insight on the process. First, you’ll contact your new 401(k) provider and let them know you’d like to process a rollover. Then, they’ll take you through the next steps (which usually involve some paperwork!)

Our business model

Is Capitalize free? How does Capitalize make money?

If you choose to open an IRA with one of the preferred partners on our platform then we may be compensated. This helps us keep our rollover service free for almost all of our users and allows us to provide enhanced levels of rollover service for transfers into those partners.  None of those providers are ever allowed to impact the content on our site. If you’ve ever used a site like Nerdwallet, Credit Karma, or Lending Tree then you’ll be familiar with this model.

We also offer Capitalize Plus, a premium, paid service for users who want even more service & benefits, or for users who want to roll over into an IRA provider that isn’t currently a Capitalize preferred partner.

Is Capitalize a financial advisor?

No, Capitalize is not a financial or tax advisor, and we don’t make financial recommendations. We provide financial information that you can use to make decisions. We also act in a technological and administrative capacity to help you with any rollover-related tasks.

Ready to move your old 401(k)?
Don’t lose track of your money. We make it easy to find and move your old 401(k) to a new account of your choice - for free.