Best Retirement Plans for 2024: Choosing the Right Path for Your Future (2024)

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us and terms apply to offers listed (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate products and services to help you make smart decisions with your money.

Why Start Saving for Retirement Now?

Financial experts all agree: The sooner you start saving, the better. Retirement savings accounts offer long-term wealth-building features like compounding, tax advantages, and retirement-focused investment strategies.

Compound interest allows you to earn interest on your interest. The longer your money grows, the faster it accumulates and the closer you are to achieving a financially secure retirement. Contributing a little here and there is better than not contributing at all.

Moreover, retirement plans like IRAs and 401(k)s offer tax benefits. You can contribute pre-tax money to lower your taxable income today. Or you can contribute after-tax money for tax-free growth and withdrawals.

Here are Business Insider's editors' top picks for the best retirement plans in 2024.

Best Retirement Plans for Employees

401(k) Plans

401(k)s are popular retirement savings plans offered by for-profit companies. Employees can open a traditional 401(k) or a Roth 401(k). Traditional 401(k)s grow with pre-tax dollars, but Roth 401(k)s rely on after-tax contributions, just like with IRAs.

Employees can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024, and individuals age 50 and older can contribute additional "catch-up" contributions of $7,500.

Many 401(k)s offer employer-matching contributions. Your employer matches up to a certain limit for every dollar you put into your account. This is generally considered "free money" toward your retirement. For instance, if you make $50,000 annually, and your company matches 50% of your 401(k) contributions up to 5% of your salary, you would need to contribute $2,500 into your account to receive the full match amount. Your employer would then contribute an additional $1,250 a year.

403(b) Plans

403(b)s, or tax-sheltered annuities, are retirement plans for public school employees, tax-exempt organizations, churches, and other nonprofit companies. Similar to a 401(k), 403(b)s may offer the benefit of an employer match. You can contribute pre-tax or after-tax money.

If you're under 50, you can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024. Employees 50 and up can contribute an additional $7,500. In addition to pre-tax and after-tax contributions, you can contribute to your 403(b) by allowing your employer to withhold money from your paycheck to deposit into the account.

Thrift Savings Plans

Thrift savings plans (TSPs) are retirement accounts for federal and uniformed services employees. Like 401(k)s, these plans let you contribute pre- or after-tax dollars. But, unlike many 401(k) employer matches, most TSPs offer a full 5% contribution match. Your employer will match your contributions up to 5% of your salary.

The annual contribution limit for 2024 is $23,000. The catch-up contribution limit is $7,500.


457(b) plans are retirement savings accounts offered by certain state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations. Like 403(b)s, you can contribute to your 457(b) plan by asking your employer to withhold a portion of your paycheck and deposit it in your retirement plan. Some employers allow you to make Roth contributions.

The annual contribution limit for 2024 is $23,000. The catch-up contribution limit is $7,500. Folks 50 and older can contribute up to the annual additions limit, currently $69,000.

Pension Plans

Pension plans are retirement plans fully funded by your employer, who are required to make regular contributions toward your retirement. However, depending on the plan's terms, you may not have control over how the money is invested.

There are two main types of pension plans: the defined contribution plan and the defined benefit plan. 401(k)s are technically considered defined-contribution pension plans, and your employer is not responsible if your investments perform poorly.

Traditional pension plans are defined benefit plans (plans with fixed, pre-established benefits). Employers are liable to provide retirement funds for a certain dollar amount, calculated based on employee earnings and employment years.

Best Retirement Plans for Self-Employed Individuals

Solo 401(k)

Solo 401(k)s are an option for business owners who work for themselves and have no employees. They can contribute as both an employer and employee (and spouses of business owners may be able to contribute as well), meaning they can contribute twice as much. You can make pre- or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account.

As an employee, you can defer up to $23,000 of your self-employed income in 2024. If you're 50 or older, you can make an additional $7,500 catch-up contribution. As an employer, you can contribute up to $23,000, plus the catch-up contribution if you're 50 or older. The total contribution limit is $76,500.


Simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs are retirement vehicles managed by small businesses or self-employed individuals. According to the IRS, employees (including self-employed individuals) are eligible if they are 21 years old, have worked for the employer for at least three of the last five years, and have made a minimum of $750.

SEP IRAs also require that all contributions to the plan are 100% vested. This means that each employee holds immediate and complete ownership over all contributions to their account, including any employer match. You can contribute up to $69,000 or 25% of your employee's compensation 2024.

Vesting protects employees against financial loss. For instance, according to the IRS, an employer can forfeit amounts of an employee's account balance that isn't fully vested if that employee hasn't worked more than 500 hours in a year for five years.


SIMPLE IRAs are for self-employed individuals or small businesses with 100 employees or less. According to the IRS, these retirement plans require employers to match each employee's contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of the employee's salary.

To qualify, employees (and self-employed individuals) must have made at least $5,000 in the last two years and expect to receive that amount during the current year. But once you meet this requirement, you'll be 100% vested in all your SIMPLE IRA's earnings, meaning you have immediate ownership over your and your employer's contributions.

Employees can contribute up to $16,000 in 2024. You can also add a catch-up contribution of $3,500 if you're 50 or older.

Payroll Deduction IRAs

Small businesses and self-employed people can set up employee IRAs even simpler. With payroll deduction IRAs, businesses delegate most of the hard work to banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.

After determining which institutions their employer has partnered with, employees can set up payroll deductions with those institutions to fund their IRAs. These accounts are generally best for employees who don't have access to other employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s and 457(b)s.

For 2024, you can contribute up to $7,000 in annual contributions and up to $1,000 in annual catch-up contributions for employees aged 50 or older.

Best Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

One of the most appealing components of independent retirement plans like IRAs is that you can open one as long as you've got taxable (earned) income. And even if you have an employer-sponsored retirement account, you can usually set up a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and other independent retirement accounts.

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRAs let you save with pre-tax contributions toward your retirement savings. You'll pay tax when you withdraw during retirement. Traditional IRAs are recommended for higher-income workers who prefer to receive a tax deduction benefit now rather than later.

The 2024 contribution limit is $7,000, with up to $1,000 in catch-up contributions.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are funded by after-tax dollars, meaning you pay taxes on your contributions now and make tax-free withdrawals later. As long as you're eligible, experts recommend Roth IRAs for early-career workers who expect to be in a higher tax bracket when they withdraw. Traditional and Roth IRAs share the same contribution limits: $7,000 in 2024, with up to $1,000 in catch-up contributions.

If you want to open one of the best Roth IRAs, single filers can only contribute the maximum amount in 2024 if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $146,000. Married couples must earn less than $230,000 annually to contribute the full amount in 2024. You can still contribute less if you earn a little more, though.

You can find your MAGI by calculating your gross (before tax) income and subtracting any tax deductions from that amount to get your adjusted gross income (AGI), then adding back certain allowable deductions.

Spousal IRAs

There's also an option for married couples where one spouse doesn't earn taxable income. Spousal IRAs allow both spouses to contribute to a separate IRA as long as one spouse is employed and earns taxable income. This account allows the nonworking spouse to fund their own IRA.

In 2024, each can contribute $7,000 (or $8,000 if they are 50 or older) for up to $16,000 annually.

Rollover IRAs

The best rollover IRAs let you convert your existing employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA, something experts generally recommend doing when you leave a job for a few reasons: primarily because you have more control over the investment options in an IRA than in a 401(k), and also because it's easier to consolidate your accounts for record-keeping.

Many online brokerages and financial institutions offer rollover IRAs; some will even pay you to transfer your employer-sponsored plan to an IRA.

Self-Directed IRAs (SDIRAs)

You can fund a self-directed IRA using traditional or Roth contributions ($7,000 and contribution limits in 2024, plus another $1,000 for catch-up contributions). But the difference between these accounts is mainly one of account custody and investment choices.

Unlike traditional and Roth IRAs, the IRS requires that all SDIRAs have a certified custodian or trustee who manages the account. These third parties handle the setup process and administrative duties of the IRA (e.g., executing transactions and assisting with account maintenance).

SDIRAs also give investors access to a wider range of investment options. With traditional and Roth IRAs, you're limited to mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and other traditional investments. But, SDIRAs allow you to invest in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies.

Nondeductible IRAs

Nondeductible IRAs are for people who earn too much to get the full tax benefits of an IRA.Contributions for these accounts aren't tax deductible, meaning you'll fund your IRA with post-tax dollars like a Roth IRA. The difference is that you'll still have to pay taxes on any earnings or interest from the account once you withdraw at age 59 1/2.

Other Retirement Savings Options


Annuities are investment vehicles purchased from insurance companies at a premium. You'll receive periodic payouts during retirement once you purchase an annuity using pre-tax or after-tax dollars. Annuities offer a reliable income stream for retirees and reassurance they won't outlive their savings.

The funds in an annuity can also be invested. Before you start receiving payouts, the investment gains grow tax-free, but you'll still be liable to pay income tax. Plus, annuities have limited liquidity and high fees that may diminish potential gains.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are savings accounts designed to cover medical expenses but can double as retirement savings. Once you're 65, you can withdraw the funds from your HSA penalty-free for non-medical expenses.

While an HSA isn't a great main retirement savings vehicle, it can be a great addition to a different long-term savings account. In addition to penalty-free withdrawals on qualifying expenses, HSAs are funded with pre-tax dollars and grow-tax-free. But you'll still be subject to income tax.

In 2024, you can contribute up to $4,150 for self-coverage and $8,300 for family coverage. Folks 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution.

Choosing the Best Retirement Plan for You

If you're not a small-business owner or self-employed, the best retirement plan for you usually depends on your type of employer, marital status, and short- and long-term savings goals.

However, for most employer-sponsored retirement accounts, you can decide whether to make pre-tax or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account. Roth contributions are best for those who expect to pay more in taxes as they age, but you should consider pre-tax contributions if you don't mind paying taxes when you withdraw money from your account in retirement.

You can boost your retirement savings even more by opening a separate IRA in addition to your employer-sponsored plan (you can still save toward retirement with an IRA if you're unemployed).

FAQs About Retirement Plans

What retirement option is best?

Your best retirement option depends on your income, employer, financial situation, time horizon, and goals. If you can access a retirement savings account through your employer, especially a pension or 401(k) plan, that is likely your best option. If not, a traditional or Roth IRA offers tax advantages, compounding power, and flexible investment options.

What is better than a 401(k) for retirement?

A traditional or Roth IRA may be a better retirement saving account than a 401(k) due to the low fees and flexibility. Although 401(k)s come with great benefits like an employer match, they have high fees that can eat away at gains. An IRA may be a better option if your employer is not covering those fees.

Is a Roth IRA better than a 401(k)?

A Roth IRA may be the better option, depending on your situation. In most cases, a 401(k) is the stronger retirement account due to the convenience of automatic payroll deduction and the additional benefit of an employer match. However, Roth IRAs can double as emergency funds. A Roth IRA may be better if you're looking for increased flexibility and Roth tax benefits.

Why You Should Trust Us: Our Expert Panel For The Best Retirement Plans

Best Retirement Plans for 2024: Choosing the Right Path for Your Future (1)

Rebecca Zissar/Business insider

We interviewed the following investing experts to see what they had to say about retirement savings plans.

  • Sandra Cho, RIA, wealth manager, and CEO of Pointwealth Capital Management
  • Tessa Campbell, Investment and retirement reporter at Personal Finance Insider

What are the advantages/disadvantages of investing in a retirement plan?

Sandra Cho:

"The main advantage is the tax implications of the account. Depending on the account, taxes will either be deferred or not included at all. For employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s, contributions to the plan are made with pre-tax funds, and the account grows tax-deferred. Taxes are then owed upon withdrawal.

"Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are contributed to with post-tax funds but grow tax-free. Both should be included in an investor's portfolio. Another advantage is that 401(k)s often have an employer matching component. That is, an employer will match your contributions up to a certain point (usually around 3% of your salary).

"The disadvantage is that retirement accounts have a max contribution limit. Another disadvantage is that these funds cannot be used until age 59 1/2. For younger investors, that can be a long time wait."

Tessa Campbell:

"Tax benefits and compound interest are two of the major advantages of contribution to a retirement savings plan like a 401(k) or individual IRA. Depending on the kind of plan you open (traditional or Roth), you can benefit from contributions after- or post-tax dollars. In addition, some 401(k) plans are eligible for employer-sponsored matches, which are essentially free money.

"The disadvantage of a retirement plan is that you won't be able to access the funds in your account penalty-free until you're at least 59 1/2 years old. Unless there are no other options, early withdraws from a retirement savings plan isn't advised."

Who should consider opening a retirement plan?

Sandra Cho:

"Every individual should be investing through a retirement plan if they have the financial capability to. At the minimum, investors should try to contribute up to the matching amount for their 401(k) and the maximum amount for their Roth IRA. The growth in these funds compounds over time, helping to enhance the long-term return."

Tessa Campbell:

"I can't think of a single person that wouldn't benefit from a retirement savings plan, other than maybe someone that is already well into retirement. Although some younger individuals don't feel the need to start contributing quite yet, it's actually better to open an account as soon as possible and take advantage of compound interest growth capabilities."

Is there any advice you'd offer someone who's considering opening a retirement plan?

Sandra Cho:

"I would advise them to work with a financial advisor or trusted professional. This will give them insight into where they should be investing their money, whether that be a 401(k), Roth IRA, or another vehicle. There are plenty of people and sources out there who provide important information and can help you create a strong financial future."

Tessa Campbell:

"Don't contribute huge portions of your salary if it doesn't make sense with your budget. While contributing to a retirement savings plan is important, you must still afford your monthly expenses and pay down an existing debt. If you're having trouble establishing a reasonable budget, consult a financial advisor or planner for professional help."

Tessa Campbell

Investing and Retirement Reporter

Tessa Campbell is an investing and retirement reporter on Business Insider’s personal finance desk. Over two years of personal finance reporting, Tessa has built expertise on a range of financial topics, from the best credit cards to the best retirement savings accounts.ExperienceTessa currently reports on all things investing — deep-diving into complex financial topics, shedding light on lesser-known investment avenues, and uncovering ways readers can work the system to their advantage.As a personal finance expert in her 20s, Tessa is acutely aware of the impacts time and uncertainty have on your investment decisions. While she curates Business Insider’s guide on the best investment apps, she believes that your financial portfolio does not have to be perfect, it just has to exist. A small investment is better than nothing, and the mistakes you make along the way are a necessary part of the learning process.Expertise:Tessa’s expertise includes:

  • Credit cards
  • Investing apps
  • Retirement savings
  • Cryptocurrency
  • The stock market
  • Retail investing

Education:Tessa graduated from Susquehanna University with a creative writing degree and a psychology minor.When she’s not digging into a financial topic, you’ll find Tessa waist-deep in her second cup of coffee. She currently drinks Kitty Town coffee, which blends her love of coffee with her love for her two cats: Keekee and Dumpling. It was a targeted advertisem*nt, and it worked.

Rickie Houston, CEPF

Rickie Houston was a senior wealth-building reporter for Business Insider, tasked with covering brokerage products, investment apps, online advisor services, cryptocurrency exchanges, and other wealth-building financial products.Before Insider, Rickie worked as a personal finance writer at SmartAsset, focusing on retirement, investing, taxes, and banking topics. He's contributed to stories published in the Boston Globe, and his work has also been featured in Yahoo News.He graduated from Boston University, where he contributed as a staff writer and sports editor for Boston University News Service.

Top Offers From Our Partners

Best Retirement Plans for 2024: Choosing the Right Path for Your Future (3)

SoFi Checking and Savings Earn up to 4.60% APY on savings balances and up to a $300 bonus with qualifying direct deposit. FDIC Insured.

There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for the 4.60% APY for savings. Members without direct deposit will earn up to 1.20% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at To earn the $300 bonus, the customer must complete a direct deposit with a minimum initial deposit of $250 in a new SoFi Checking and Savings account within 45 days of clicking to qualify (offer expires 12/31/24).

Best Retirement Plans for 2024: Choosing the Right Path for Your Future (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated:

Views: 5968

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.