- Written by Lindsey Crossmier
Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Financially Reviewed ByToby Walters, CFA®
Toby Walters, CFA®
Chartered Financial Analyst and Paraplanner
Toby Walters, CFA®, has over 25 years of financial research experience. With a knowledge and understanding of researching and analyzing financial data, he has developed a unique and experienced viewpoint on money matters. He has been a chartered financial analyst since 2003, and most recently a portfolio analyst and paraplanner.Read More
- Published: May 5, 2020
- Updated: September 18, 2023
- 7 min read time
- This page features 8 Cited Research Articles
We publish unbiased product reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payment we receive from our advertising partners. Learn more about how we review products and read our advertiser disclosure for how we make money.Our Criteria
We evaluated annuity companies licensed to sell products in all 50 states, ultimately only featuring those that fit our strict criteria. To be included on this list, providers must have:
- A rating of A- or higher from AM Best.
- Net total admitted assets of at least $20 billion.
- Below 1.0 complaint index score from the NAIC.
- Ranked within the top 15 in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Individual Annuity Study.
Understanding Our Methodology
To determine our picks for the best annuity companies of 2023, RetireGuide’s independent editorial team carefully considered insurance providers with licenses to issue annuity contracts nationwide. Strict, high-quality criteria helped us determine superlatives for each annuity company, catered to our readers’ perspectives.
To be considered, the company must have an A- or better Financial Strength Rating and have over $20 billion in net total admitted assets in 2022, according to information supplied by AM Best.
In addition, our selected companies must have an NAIC Complaint Index score lower than 1.0, which indicates fewer complaints on average. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) publishes its Complaint Index scores annually to compare an individual company’s performance to other companies in the insurance market. We took the latest NAIC Complaint Index scores from 2022.
Our editorial team also only selected annuity companies that were rated in the top 15 of the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Individual Annuity Study. This study considered customer’s experience with the largest annuity companies in the United States. Each annuity company was ranked based on their customer’s satisfaction with communication, interaction, price, product offerings and statements.
Other factors considered were annuities with features specifically designed to cater to those nearing retirement, such as annuities with estate planning benefits in mind. We kept Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings in mind, which indicate how likely the business is to interact and help its customers.
Because annuity plans and providers vary by location, an independent insurance agent can best help you find a suitable plan in your area.
Learn more about our broader Editorial Guidelines.
Editor’s Choice: Best OverallGreat for: Wide range of products with high financial ratings
Lincoln Financial Group
Lincoln Financial offers a diverse range of financial services including life insurance, retirement plans and annuities — fixed, fixed indexed and variable. The company is based in Philadelphia.
NAIC Rating: 0.12
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 9th
Annuities Offered: 5 Fixed Indexed, 5 Variable, 1 MYGA and 2 IncomePros & ConsPros
- Variety of annuity products available
- Ranked 5th in NAIC’s Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium
- Moderately low minimum premiums
- High minimum premium for SPIA
- Minimally transparent about fees
Lincoln Financial was ranked best overall due to their wide range of product availability, high financial strength rating and minimal premiums. Their longstanding dependability and minimal NAIC complaints make Lincoln Financial a universally beneficial candidate to anyone shopping for an annuity.
Lincoln Financial has been a leading provider in the annuity industry for more than a century, with over $280 billion net total admitted assets in 2022. Lincoln Financial also placed 5th in the NAIC’s Top 25 Annuity Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium, with over $17 billion in direct annuity premiums in 2022.
Standout offerings from Lincoln include the MYGuaranteeSM Plus, which is an MYGA with two interest rate bands so that higher premiums grow faster, and the OptiBlend® FIA, which offers the choice of eight indexes to link the annuity to.
However, Lincoln Financial isn’t as transparent about fees compared to other annuity issuers. Make sure to confirm any potential withdrawal or surrender fees before purchasing an annuity from Lincoln Financial.
Best Variable Annuity ProviderGreat for: Long-term investment goals
Nationwide has more than 85 years of experience with retirement planning services. The popular insurer paid over $19 billion in claims and benefits to members in 2022.
NAIC Rating: 0.04
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 3rd
Annuities Offered: 9+ Variable, 2 Fixed, 3 Fixed Indexed and 1 ImmediatePros & ConsPros
- Wide range of variable annuity offerings
- A+ Rating from BBB
- Several FIAs have longer surrender charge schedule
- New indexes and investment options, indicating a level of risk without a history of steady performance
- Some annuities have mandatory riders
Nationwide specifically specializes in variable annuities, with many unique options available. Ample products available and top-notch customer satisfaction scores make Nationwide a top-tier company for variable annuities.
Each of the variable annuities Nationwide offers comes with unique features, like the Monument Advisor, which has a flat fee of $20 and over 350 investment options. Minimum premiums for Nationwide annuities range from just $300 to $25,000, and the fees for variable annuities usually come out to between 0.20% and 1.30% of the contract’s value.
Keep in mind that it would be in your best interest to watch the performance of several of Nationwide’s investment options, since they are newer to the market and potentially exposed to risk. You should also confirm if your variable annuity comes with a mandatory rider, which can reduce your contract value.
Best Fixed Indexed Annuity ProviderGreat for: Fixed Indexed Annuities with Little to No Fees
Allianz Life provides retirement solutions, including annuities and life insurance policies. The company is a subsidiary of the German financial services group Allianz SE.
NAIC Rating: 0.12
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 6th
Annuities Offered: 7 Fixed Indexed and 1 Index VariablePros & ConsPros
- Majority of Allianz FIAs have no fees
- Highly customizable index variable annuity
- A+ Rating from BBB
- High minimum premium on several products compared to other annuity companies
- No fixed or immediate products available
Allianz Life’s high-rated fixed indexed annuities are best for an investor looking for potential high rewards with minimal fees. Many of Allianz annuity options are highly customizable with no fees and additional services or benefits. Consider the Allianz 222, which includes an income rider at no extra cost. Allianz 222 also provides six market indices and five different crediting methods to choose from.
The provider’s index variable annuity product, Allianz Index Advantage, can be customized based on your financial priorities. Allianz offers versions of the product with an included income benefit rider, with no product fee or with features designed to work within an advisory platform.
However, compared to other issuers, Allianz Life offers minimal financial products and higher minimum premiums. If the need for a low minimum premium outweighs the benefits of low fees, you may want to consider another annuity company.
Best Income Annuity ProviderGreat for: Immediate or Deferred Income Annuities
Since its founding in 1851, MassMutual has offered insurance and retirement products including life insurance, annuities and IRAs. The Massachusetts-based company holds an A++ rating from S&P Global Ratings.
NAIC Rating: 0.03
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 10th
Annuities Offered: 1 Fixed, 1 Fixed Indexed, 1 Variable, 1 SPIA and 1 Deferred IncomePros & ConsPros
- Income annuities have many flexible payout options
- Low minimum premium for income annuities
- A rating from the BBB
- Ranked 2nd in NAIC’s Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium
- Minimal product offerings compared to other providers
- SPIA has limited liquidity
MassMutual has stood out as a highly rated annuity provider for over 170 years, offering moderate minimum premiums and surrender charges. Today, the company offers a fixed annuity, as well as two income annuities. All the annuity products have a $10,000 minimum premium and relatively low surrender charges between 4% and 7%.
MassMutual’s customization options make their income annuities appealing to those looking for flexible lifetime income. The company offers several payout options and optional inflation protection. RetireEase Choice, the deferred income option, allows annuity owners to defer payments from 13 months to 30 years after the purchase date.
Not all of MassMutual’s income annuities come with death benefit protection. Coverage varies depending on which income annuity you choose. If death benefit protection is a valuable feature to you, make sure it’s included before purchasing your annuity.
Best Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuity ProviderGreat for: Investors nearing retirement
A relative newcomer to the annuity space, Athene Holdings was founded in 2009. Today, the company is one of the largest annuity providers in the country and offers a variety of products.
NAIC Rating: 0.09
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 13th
Annuities Offered: 3 MYGAs, 6 Fixed Indexed, 1 RILAs and 1 SPIAPros & ConsPros
- MYGAs and FIAs have annual free withdrawal privileges
- Lifetime income available on all products
- A+ rating from BBB
- Several products have mandatory riders
The provider’s extensive MYGA annuity offerings and strong customer satisfaction ratings make Athene’s an appealing option for investors nearing retirement. Athene offers annual free withdrawal privileges on its fixed and fixed indexed annuities, but it’s the MYGA products that offer many advantages to consumers.
With low minimum premiums (between $5,000 and $10,000) and low withdrawal charges (between 3% and 8%), Athene’s MYGAs make sense for those who want dependable tax-deferred growth. Athene also offers lifetime income, one of the biggest benefits of purchasing an annuity, on all its products.
Confirm if there are any mandatory riders for your Athene MYGA annuity before purchasing. Some riders reduce the value of your annuity’s contract.
Best Low-Fee Annuity Provider for RetireesGreat for: Affordable retirement income
The New York State Legislature created the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund in 1918 to provide retirement income for college professors. Today, TIAA-CREF is the chief retirement vendor for people in the academic, medical and cultural professions. Note that you can only purchase an annuity from TIAA if you’re a retiree or work in one of the professions listed above.
NAIC Rating: 0.52
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 4th*
Annuities Offered: 2 Fixed & 1 Variable
*TIAA isn’t officially placed in the J.D. Power Study. Their ranking is listed at 813/1000, which is 25 points from the #1 ranking. A J.D. Power representative reported that TIAA wasn’t listed officially because not all annuities are available to the public. However, because TIAA ranked high, J.D. Power decided to keep TIAA in the study.Pros & ConsPros
- No fees or minimum premium on traditional annuity
- Variable annuity charges less than 1% annually for the first 10 years
- Highest AM Best Rating
- Not all annuities are offered to the public
- Limited products available
TIAA provides affordable access to annuities for investors on a budget. While TIAA only offers a limited number of annuities, the low fees and premiums make its products readily available for everyday customers.
The TIAA Traditional fixed annuity has no fees and no minimum premium. The other fixed annuity, Investment Horizon, charges a $25 annual fee only if the contract is less than $25,000. Finally, TIAA’s Intelligent Variable annuity has a low minimum premium of $2,500 with an annual expense charge between 0.45% to 0.70% for the first 10 years.
The main potential limitation of TIAA annuities is that they aren’t available to the public. According to TIAA, certain annuity products, are only available to employees and retirees (and their family members) of nonprofit colleges and universities, public and private nonprofit elementary and secondary schools, teaching hospitals, museums, libraries and other nonprofit institutions.
Best Annuity Provider for Estate PlanningGreat for: Leaving a Legacy
American Equity is an industry leader in the development and sale of fixed indexed and fixed rate annuity products. The company is licensed to sell in all 50 states and Washington D.C. Their primary focus is annuities, but they also manage investment spreads and risk to earn predictable returns.
NAIC Rating: 0.06
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 1st
Annuities Offered: 4 Fixed Index Annuities, 2 Fixed Annuities & 1 Immediate AnnuityPros & ConsPros
- Offers a fixed index annuity specifically designed for estate planning
- Estate planning annuity comes with a free rider
- Can allow free withdrawals to cover nursing care
- High fees for fixed annuities
- 9% withdrawal penalty in some cases
American Equity provides highly rated annuities for those looking for guaranteed income and a way to leave a legacy to your loved ones. American Equity offers the EstateShield 10 Fixed Index Annuity, a 10-year retirement product designed to help you meet the financial challenges of accumulation, income and estate planning. The EstateShield 10 Fixed Index Annuity also comes with a lifetime income benefit rider automatically with a wellbeing benefit.
However, if you attempt to withdraw beyond the interest you’ve earned in one contract year, any withdrawal beyond this amount could be faced with a 9% penalty charge.
Best Annuity Provider to Combat InflationGreat for: Lowering Inflation Risk with High-Rated Lifetime Income
New York Life
New York Life is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world and one of only three life insurers to hold the highest ratings from all four rating companies. Founded in 1845 as the Nautilus Insurance Company, New York Life sells annuities, long-term care insurance and mutual funds through its subsidiary NYLIFE Securities, a registered broker-dealer.
NAIC Rating: 0
J.D. Power Study Ranking: 8th
Annuities Offered: 2 Variable Annuities, 4 Income Annuities & 3 Fixed Deferred AnnuitiesPros & ConsPros
- Some annuities offer inflation protection features
- #1 provider of income annuities since 2006
- Surrender charge free (and MVA free) withdrawals
- Lowest NAIC complaint rating out of all our top annuity providers
- 15+ discontinued financial products
- Some income annuities have high minimum premiums
If you’re looking for a highly rated annuity company with options to keep up with inflation, consider one of New York Life’s income annuities. New York Life earned the highest AM Best Rating, A++, which indicates superior financial strength, and the lowest NAIC complaint index score of 0, which indicates little to no complaints.
New York Life’s guaranteed income annuities offer an annual increase option, which protects your income from the effects of inflation. New York Life has also been the #1 provider for income annuities since 2006, according to a 2022 LIMRA study. Their income annuity sales are expected to experience steady growth through 2026, according to a different LIMRA study.
However, New York Life does have more than 15 discounted financial products. A high number of discontinued products can raise a red flag for reliability. Some income annuities also have minimum initial premiums as high as $50,000. However, some have lower minimum premiums of $5,000.
Other Annuity Providers We Considered
Company Noteworthy Features Why This Company Wasn’t Selected Pacific Life has an A+ AM Best financial strength rating with immediate and deferred annuities available. The company also ranked within the top 10 of the J.D. Power Study. Because Pacific Life is only available in 42 states, it didn’t meet our criteria. USAA has the highest AM Best rating, A++, which indicates superior financial strength. USAA also has a low NAIC complaint index of 0.06, indicating minimal complaints. They offer deferred growth and SPIA annuities. Didn’t place on the J.D. Power List, and annuities are only available to a select group. Offering annuities and life insurance, Global Atlantic Financial Group serves over 2 million clients across the country. They have an A+ Rating from the BBB and minimal complaints. High minimum premiums compared to other issuers and didn’t place in the J.D. Power study. Transamerica has an A AM Best financial strength rating and over $170 billion of net total admitted assets. The company offers several variable annuities and registered index-linked annuities. Transamerica had an above average NAIC complaint score, of 1.09, which shows the company has more complaints than the average company of their size. Mutual of Omaha has an A+ AM Best financial strength rating and a below average NAIC complaint rating of 0.48. They offer immediate and deferred annuities. Didn’t rank in J.D. Power Study, which indicates a lower level of satisfaction with their annuity products.
How To Decide Which Annuity Company Is Right for You
You’ll need to consider the annuity company’s products available, financial strength, complaints and communication to determine which is the best for you.
Considerable research is necessary for annuity providers, because unlike some financial savings vehicles, they are not guaranteed by the FDIC or SIPC. The annuity company you choose backs your assets, therefore if you choose poorly, you’re will face the consequences.
The questions below can help you determine if the annuity company you’re considering is a good fit.Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing an Annuity Company
- Does the company have the annuity type I want?
- Will I get my money back if I change my mind?
- What fees will I have to face if I purchase this annuity?
- How does this company’s annuity rates compare to other high rated issuers?
- Does this company allow me to withdraw part of my annuity?
- Do the annuities offered have the payout option I want?
- Does this company offer customization options, riders, death benefits or long-term care waivers?
You may also hire an independent financial advisor to help you choose an annuity company. It could be in your best interest to hire an advisor that is an independent fiduciary. These individuals are not salespeople, and are legally and ethically bound to put your needs ahead of their own.Signs of a Reputable Annuity Company
- Below a 1.0 complaint index score from the NAIC
- A- or higher financial strength rating from AM Best
- BBB or higher overall long-term credit rating from Standard and Poor’s
- A or higher long-term obligation rating from Moody’s
- A high credit quality rating from Fitch Ratings
How To Buy an Annuity
There are six steps to simplify buying an annuity.
Interested in Buying an Annuity?Learn how annuities provide premium protection, guaranteed retirement income and long-term care benefits through our partner Annuity.org.
- Assess your current and future financial needs. Do you plan on doing any home renovations or checking costly adventures off your bucket list? If you find yourself struggling to account for all future potential costs, hire a financial advisor to help you.
- Select an annuity that fits your needs. You’ll need to compare annuity plans. There isn’t a one size-fits-all annuity. Each type has different contract details, levels of risk and benefits. Make sure the contract terms align with your goals.
- Choose a highly rated annuity company. Compare the rates offered by each company, features and ask about any potential annuity costs to avoid unexpected fees. Confirm that the company has a low NAIC complaint index score and high financial strength ratings before buying an annuity.
- Review your contract. Before completing your application, you’ll need to carefully review the fine print of your contract. It should include the risks, rewards and important details of your annuity.
- Fill out your application. Once you find a reputable company with an annuity that suites your needs, you’ll need to complete your application. If you wait too long to fill out your application, your rate isn’t locked in and could change.
- Transfer funds. Pay with cash, retirement funds or transfer from a brokerage account. Make sure the transfer doesn’t have negative tax consequences before completing the transaction.
FAQs: Annuities & Annuity ProvidersWho should buy an annuity?If you think you’ll outlive your savings, or your Social Security benefits won’t cover your expenses, you should consider buying an annuity for a reliable stream of income.What is the average age to buy an annuity?50 to 75 years old is the average age range to buy an annuity, according to a LIMRA report.Who issues annuities?Annuities are issued by insurance companies. Some of the most popular annuity providers include Lincoln Financial Group, Mass Mutual, TIAA and Allianz Life.Advertisement
Connect With a Financial Advisor InstantlyLast Modified: September 18, 2023
8 Cited Research Articles
- Hilton, J. (2023, March 8). New York Life Rockets to the Top of the 2022 Annuity Sales Charts. Retrieved from https://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/new-york-life-rockets-to-the-top-of-the-2022-annuity-sales-charts
- AM Best. (2023). About Us. Retrieved from https://web.ambest.com/about/
- NAIC. (2023). Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium. Retrieved from https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/research-actuarial-life-fraternal-market-share.pdf
- J.D. Power. (2022, October 13). Both Life Insurance and Annuity Customer Satisfaction Decline as Pandemic Fears Wane, J.D. Power Finds. Retrieved from https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2022-us-individual-life-insurance-individual-annuity-studies
- TIAA-CREF. (2022). Q4 2021 Facts and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/f/facts_and_stats.pdf
- New York Life. (2022). Income Annuities. Retrieved from https://www.nylannuities.com/new-york-life-annuities/income-annuities
- LIMRA. (2015). Income Annuity Buyer Metrics. Retrieved from https://www.limra.com/contentassets/16e0938b386941609634980fae19ebe8/161110-02-income.pdf
- NAIC. (n.d.). Results by Complaint Index. Retrieved from https://content.naic.org/cis_refined_results.htm?TABLEAU=CIS_COMPLAINTS&COCODE=94498&:refresh
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