American 401k Editor’s Score: 91/100

Transparent pricing 100/100
Low employee investment fees 87/100
Mobile and online access 100/100
No fees for sign-up or administration 80/100
Variety of plans 90/100

Why American 401k Is Best for Transparency

Unlike some of the best employee retirement providers, American 401k offers transparent pricing. The provider’s administration fees and per-employee fees are indicated for each of the two plan offerings, and custom quotes can be obtained via phone, email or an online contact form. What’s more, the company does not charge 12b-1 fees, exchange fees or minimum-balance fees, and there are no commissions on the buying or selling of mutual funds.


  • The company’s website is transparent about pricing and fees.
  • American 401k offers investors more than 15,000 funds and 1,000 ETFs, including Vanguard.
  • It is appropriate for businesses with one to 500 employees.


  • Some plans limit access to certain investments, which can hurt adoption rates.
  • There is limited information about the platform’s administrative dashboard.

American 401k Plan Features

Feature Premier Elite
Number of employees 0 to 100 101+
Employee self-enrollment Yes Yes
In-person and online group enrollment sessions Yes Yes
Passive and active funds Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes
Individual securities No Yes


Designed for businesses with up to 100 employees, American 401k’s Premier plan is for businesses that are starting a new 401(k). This plan offers full service and recordkeeping; the biggest difference is in the types of investments available. Premier only offers mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), making it ideal for businesses that want to limit employees to diversified investment options. 


American 401k’s Elite plan is meant for businesses with 101 or more employees and those with an existing 401(k). The option is also best for businesses that want access to funds, ETFs and individual securities.

Additional Features

  • Setup and onboarding: Clients get concierge-level guidance throughout the implementation process and ongoing administration. American 401k helps business owners and HR professionals design retirement plans tailored to their unique needs. If your company has an existing 401(k), American 401k can help you review your current plan and conduct a Fiduciary Investment Review.
  • Mobile enrollment: Like many retirement providers, American 401k offers employees mobile enrollment.
  • Employee education and resources: Employees also get access to one-on-one investment guidance, in-person group enrollment, webinars, retirement income calculators, and economic and market updates. 

Account Types

  • Safe harbor 401(k): Safe harbor plans have certain matching requirements outlined by the IRS, but they also allow business owners to maximize their own contributions to the plan.
  • Traditional 401(k): Traditional 401(k) plans offer the greatest flexibility for companies with employees.

Investment Options

American 401k employers can choose from more than 15,000 mutual funds and over 1,000 ETFs. Plan administrators can also select from both active and passive (or index) funds. What’s more, American 401k does not limit the number of investment slots that employers can offer their employees, and employers can include the option of a self-directed brokerage account. 

Beyond its range of investment options, American 401k does not collect commissions when buying or selling mutual fund shares, and there are no 12b-1 fees, exchange fees or minimum-balance fees.

Key takeaway: In addition to 401(k) plans, American 401k offers access to more than 15,000 mutual funds and 1,000 exchange-traded funds, giving employees significant choice in how to invest for their retirement.


American 401k’s main retirement plans have similar administrative costs, with discounts available based on the plan size. American 401k does not charge commissions when buying or selling mutual fund shares, and there are no 12b-1 fees, exchange fees or minimum-balance fees. 

  • Premier: This plan has a one-time install fee of $250 and an annual fee of $500, plus $20 per participant per month. Employees are charged an annualized program fee of 0.65%. Profit sharing is included.
  • Elite: This plan has a one-time install fee of $250 and an annual fee of $500, plus $20 per participant per month, with a discount based on the plan size. Employees are charged a custom annualized program fee based on their employer’s plan. As with the Premier plan, profit sharing is included.

Ease of Use

American 401k’s plans are offered through a subsidiary of MassMutual. But there is not an avenue for setting up a plan online; you’ll have to work with a rep, which requires coordinating schedules and may involve face-to-face meetings. However, once your plan is set up, the plan maintenance can be handled online.

American 401k also supports employee participation rates by offering both online and mail-in enrollment. The provider offers group enrollment meetings in person or via webinar, as well as educational resources to help employees make investment decisions. 

Customer Service

Information regarding American 401k’s customer service is limited. Prospective customers who want a quote can contact the financial professional via phone, email or a contact form. American 401k’s website indicates that clients get access to account manager concierge service and that advisory services are offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services LLC, a subsidiary of MassMutual. Likewise, customer service pertaining to recordkeeping may go through a third-party provider, PB&H Benefits.


American 401k charges an annual fee. If you’re looking for an employee retirement benefits service provider that doesn’t charge an annual fee, consider our review of Human Interest.

Tip: Looking for other alternatives to American 401k? Consider our review of ADP or our Paychex review.

What Is an Employee Retirement Benefits Provider?

An employee retirement benefits provider is a company that helps small business owners provide sponsored retirement plans for their employees to save and invest. Retirement benefits providers offer various services, including plan administration, investment selection and recordkeeping. Providers usually offer different types of retirement plans, investment options, pricing structures, features and services.


To determine our best pick for transparency in employee retirement plans, we researched plan providers that provided all the critical information up front. Entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses and don’t have time to call every vendor to find out the cost of each plan. That’s why transparency in pricing and services is so important.

We chose the companies that offered the most specific details rather than ranges of pricing. We also looked for the plan sponsors that go into detail about their fees and costs stood out to us. To land our pick for transparency, the vendor also had to be clear about the plan types and investment choices it offers and provide top-notch customer service. American 401k checked off all these boxes for transparency.


Does American 401k offer “concierge” support?

Yes. With concierge-level support, your business receives a dedicated team of retirement specialists who create and implement your plans, help employees sign up, and offer training and support to help educate employees about their options. 

What are some of the investment fees American 401k doesn’t charge?  

American 401k doesn’t charge sales loads, 12b-1 fees, exchange fees, or minimum balance fees. Employees participating in American 401k plans pay investment fees of 0.65%. Investment fees can add up quickly and reduce the overall lifetime ROI of your investment portfolio.

Bottom Line

We recommend American 401k for …

  • Business owners who want face-to-face meetings with a representative.
  • Companies that want to offer personalized service to their employees.
  • Businesses based in the Philadelphia area.

We don’t recommend American 401k for …

  • Business owners who want a streamlined online setup.
  • Startups that want to reward employees with equity in the company.

This content was originally published here.

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