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I have multiple 401(k)s from past employers. I know I can roll each of these over into new IRA accounts at my brokerage, but do the 401(k) rules allow me to combine these 401(k)'s into one IRA account? The rollover forms are always phrased in terms of rolling old 401(k) account into a new IRA account, never any option to select an existing IRA account.

If combining is not allowed, then why?

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Yes you can rollover as many different 401(k)'s into a single IRA account. I have done it personally and it really cuts down on the overhead of keeping up with lots of different accounts. Your brokerage or mutual fund company should be able to help you with it. If you are using a company that just gives you forms and those forms don't mention an easy way to combine. Then I suggest rolling over one 401(k) first then once that's finished you can rollover the other 401(k) into that same account.

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There are a few things to consider. The answers others gave here are correct, but I'll offer some reasons you may not want to roll to an IRA:

  • The new 401(k) plan has very low fees for its investment choices. (My S&P fund cost is .02%, below any ETF or Mutual fund.
  • You plan to retire early. One can take withdrawal from their 401(k) if they retire at 55 or later, compared to 59-1/2 for IRA money.
  • You want to keep the option of a 401(k) loan. This may not matter to you, but if you ever have the need for a loan, the 401(k) loan is nearly the cheapest you'll ever find.
  • You have non-deducted IRA money. If you do. I recommend you first convert your IRA money to a Roth. You'll need to pay tax on the amount that hasn't yet been taxed (either pretax deposits or earnings) but if this amount is relatively small, it's worth converting before flooding your IRA with pre tax money.
  • @dthorpe You can also get benefits from combining past 401k's into your current 401k, without giving up any of the benefits mentioned by JoeTaxpayer. It's a simple rollover, your current plan administrator can tell you their procedure. As long as it's done plan to plan, there's no taxable event. – Xalorous Apr 21 '17 at 21:32
  • @Xalorous haven't seen OP here in 2-1/2 years. But your point is well taken. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 21 '17 at 21:36
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As other responders said, you can certainly roll over multiple 401(k) into a single account.

An added benefit of such rollover (besides the ease of tracking) is that you can shop around for your Rollover IRA provider and find the one that gives you the specific mutual funds that you want to invest in, the lowest expenses, etc. - in short, find the best fit to your priorities. There are also "lemon" 401(k) plans and if you are in one of them, get out! And rollover is the way out.

There is also one possibility to keep an eye on as it happens rarely, but it does happen - rolling a 401(k) over into another 401(k). I've done it once when I started a job at a company that had a great 401(k) with a good selection of low-cost mutual funds. I rolled the 401(k) from one previous job in to this 401(k) to take advantage of it. At the same time I kept a Rollover IRA, combining the 401(k) from all other jobs; it had more investment options and provided some flexibility.

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Can I combine all my 401ks into one account?

Yes. Short and sweet.

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I've rolled mine over into IRAs, and once you have one rollover account you can roll further 401ks into it-- I've done that.

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