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Symetra Annuity Review

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Symetra Life Insurance Company has been around for over half a century. The company is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, but it operates secondary branches in 20 other cities around the U.S. Life insurance policies, employee benefits and annuities are the main products that you can purchase through Symetra. If you have questions about what type of annuity would be best for you, consider working with a financial advisor.

Annuity Fees Annuity Type Minimum Initial Premium More Information
Symetra Edge Plus® Find an Advisor

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  • No contract fees
  • 0.90% annual death benefit rider fee
Fixed indexed annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Fixed indexed annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

Symetra Trek Find an Advisor

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  • No annual fees
Index-linked annuity $25,000

Annuity Type

Index-linked annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

Symetra Custom 5 Find an Advisor

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  • No annual fees
Fixed deferred annuity $25,000

Annuity Type

Fixed deferred annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

Advantage Income Find an Advisor

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  • No annual fees
Single-premium immediate annuity (SPIA) $10,000

Annuity Type

Single-premium immediate annuity (SPIA)

Minimum Initial Premium


As of Dec. 2018, Symetra manages $49.3 billion in assets and has more than 1,700 employees. The company has also received solid financial strength ratings from the four most prominent entities. A.M. Best rated it an “A” (3rd highest of 16 grades), Standard & Poor’s (S&P) rated it an “A” (6th highest of 21 grades), Moody’s rated it an “A1” (5th highest of 21 grades) and Fitch rated it an “A+” (5th highest of 19 grades).

Symetra Edge Plus®

The Symetra Edge Plus® fixed indexed annuity comes in five- and seven-year variations, with the former giving you access to your money in five years and the latter in seven. The minimum opening investment for this contract is $10,000, and the maximum issue age is 85 years old.

As this is a fixed indexed annuity, you’ll receive both a fixed account and an indexed account. The rate associated with the fixed account will be determined by Symetra. The indexed rate, however, will be determined by which of the six offered indexes you pick (and the ensuing performance of that index).

Your index options include ones tracking the S&P and MSCI EAFE indexes, as well as a JPMorgan ETF index. Rather than invest your money directly into these indexes, your returns are based on their performance.


The fees associated with the Edge Plus annuity are fairly limited. In fact, there are no contract fees involved in owning this product. However, if you want to take advantage of the enhanced death benefit rider, you’ll need to pay a 0.90% annual fee.

You can withdraw up to 10% of your annuity’s value per year without incurring withdrawal fees. If you surpass this amount, these fees will apply:

Withdrawal Fee Schedule
Term Length Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8+
5-Year 9% 8% 7% 7% 6% 0%    
7-Year 9% 8% 7% 7% 6% 5% 4% 0%

As is the case with all annuities, annuitants that withdraw from their account prior to turning 59.5 years old will incur a 10% income surtax from the IRS, on top of standard income taxes.

Realistic Return Expectations

The interest rate you receive with this annuity will vary depending on a number of factors, such as how much money you invest and when you open your account. As of July 2019, those who select the five-year version of this account will receive a 2.00% to 2.35% fixed rate, whereas seven-year contracts earn at a 2.10% to 2.45% clip.

The returns associated with the six indexed accounts will depend on the market and are therefore difficult to predict.

Symetra Trek

The Symetra Trek index-linked annuity has a minimum initial purchase of $25,000 and a maximum issue age of 80 years old. Contract holders will own both a fixed account and an indexed account. At least $2,000 must be allocated to each account at any one time.

The fixed account adheres to a one-year term with an interest rate determined by Symetra. There are five indexes you can invest in, including:

  • S&P 500® Index Point-to-Point
  • Russell 2000® Index Point-to-Point
  • NASDAQ 100® Index Point-to-Point
  • MSCI Emerging Markets Index Point-to-Point
  • PIMCO Equity Fusion Index Point-to-Point

The strongest free features of this contract are its two downside protection benefits. You can only choose one of them, though. Here’s how they work:

  • 10% Buffer: Should the index you invest in experience a decline, Symetra will protect you from the first 10% in losses.
  • 10% Floor: If your index investment declines in value, you will take on the first 10% in losses, and Symetra will cover anything beyond that.


If you own a Trek contract, you will not be required to pay any annual fees. The only way you will encounter a fee is if you take out more than the allotted 15% of your contract value or total interest earned annually. This is a generous percentage, as most annuities start imposing fees after you’ve taken out more than 10% of your contract value. 

The fees below apply to any withdrawals over that amount:

Withdrawal Fee Schedule
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8+
9% 8% 7% 7% 6% 5% 4% 0%

Don’t forget that if you begin taking withdrawals from your account before you turn 59.5, you’ll not only need to pay income taxes, but also a 10% income surtax.

Realistic Return Expectations

Symetra’s July 2019 report has the fixed interest rate of this account at 1.60%, which also happens to be the guaranteed minimum. On the other hand, the guaranteed minimum indexed interest cap is 2.00%. The interest you earn from your indexed account can vary significantly, though.

Symetra Custom 5

The Symetra Custom 5 fixed deferred annuity calls for a minimum initial premium payment of $25,000. If you’re looking to add the guaranteed return of purchase payment benefit onto your contract, the maximum issue age is 90 years old. For all other contracts, the maximum issue age is 85.

Depending on what best fits into your long-term financial schedule, contract holders can choose either a three- or five-year interest rate guarantee period. Symetra will list a minimum rate for you in your contract. Once the interest rate guarantee period is over, your rate will renew on an annual basis.


The Custom 5 annuity is a low-cost product, as contract holders are not required to pay any annual fees to retain their ownership. When it comes to premature withdrawals, though, you’re only entitled to 10% of your contract value annually. Should you go above and beyond that limit, the following withdrawal fees will apply:

Withdrawal Fee Schedule
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6+
7% 7% 7% 6% 5% 0%

Annuitants who withdraw from their account may be required to pay a 10% income surtax levied by the IRS. This is in addition to normal income tax rates.

Realistic Return Expectations

The fixed interest rates Symetra pays for this annuity change depending on the size of your initial payment and whether you pick the three- or five-year guaranteed rate period. As of July 2019, annuitants with a three-year period will receive an effective interest rate between 1.60% and 2.28% over their first five years of ownership. Contracts with a five-year period hold 1.75% to 2.45% effective interest rates.

Advantage Income

The Advantage Income contract is a single-premium immediate annuity, which is sometimes referred to as an SPIA. You can be as old as 90 to open an account as long as you have at least $10,000 ready to invest. As far as payouts go, you can choose from single life and joint life options, with or without a period certain.

Because this annuity is all about income, annuitants can decide to increase their payouts by up to 6.5% annually in an effort to help with inflation. Also, after your first three years of ownership, you can take out up to 30% of your future guaranteed and life-contingent payments every three years.

The death benefit comes with three options:

  • Life with installment refund: Your beneficiaries will continue getting payments until the total payout is equal to your purchase payment.
  • Life with cash refund: Rather than payments, your beneficiaries will receive a lump-sum payout.
  • Commutation to Beneficiary option: With this, your beneficiaries can change your contract’s remaining guaranteed payments into a lump-sum payment.


There are no withdrawal, annual, administrative or mortality and expense risk fees with this annuity.

The IRS may levy a 10% income tax penalty on annuitants who take withdrawals prior to turning 59.5 years old. This is in addition to paying the standard income tax rate on your withdrawals.

Realistic Return Expectations

Like any immediate annuity, the returns you receive are based entirely on the amount of money you put in, the payout option you choose and whether or not you take advanced payments.

Tips for Retirement Planning

  • Putting together a retirement income plan on your own can get complicated, which is why many people choose to work with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Don’t forget to take Social Security payments into account as you consider what kind of income you’ll need in retirement. If you don’t know what you’re in line to receive, check out SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator.

Best Places for Small Business Owners

SmartAsset analyzed data to find the best places for small business owners in the country. This interactive map allows you to see the best counties for small business owners in the country and in each state. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any county to learn about that region's small business statistics.

Rank County Small Business Returns Small Business Income Income Taxes

Methodology Which places are best for owners of small businesses? To answer this question, we considered three factors: the proportion of people in a county with small business income, how much business income those people reported and the amount of tax a potential resident must pay on their income.

To determine how attractive a region is for small business owners, we compared the number of people reporting small business income compared to the total tax-filing population of the region. Next we compared the total amount of small business income to the total amount of income reported in each region.

Small businesses are typically incorporated as pass-through entities, meaning that the businesses' owners pay income taxes on the company profits rather than the company itself paying income tax. Because of this, income taxes can have a large effect on a small business's success. To determine income tax burdens across counties, we used the national median household income. We then applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for each location.

These three factors were then indexed and equally weighted to yield our small business index. Places with a higher small business index are better for small business owners.

Sources: Internal Revenue Service (IRS), US Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey, Government Sources, SmartAsset