Athene Annuity Review

A variety of annuity plans for steady retirement income

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Athene Insurance

Athene Insurance

Our Take 

Athene Annuity offers immediate, fixed, and guaranteed annuities to help clients create a fixed-income savings strategy or a reliable income stream in retirement. Athene Annuity also offers group annuities for company pension plans. With low fees and a variety of annuity options available, Athene Annuity products may be a good choice to help supplement your retirement income.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Multiple fixed-index annuities available

  • Online educational resources available for retirement planning

  • Annuity products offer tax-deferred retirement savings

Cons
  • Independent agents are paid a commission to sell you Athene annuities

  • Cannot purchase annuities online

  • Some annuities have high fees and withdrawal limitations

Key Takeaways
  • Athene Annuity was founded in 2009 and has acquired several insurance and annuity companies since then.
  • Athene Annuity does not sell its products directly but sells them through independent agents.
  • Athene Annuity has an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best.
  • Athene Annuity was the 10th highest seller of annuities in the U.S. in 2020 according to LIMRA.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 2009
  • Kinds of Plans Immediate, fixed, and guaranteed annuities
  • Number of Plans 3
  • Payment Options Annual, lump-sum
  • Official Website https://www.athene.com/

Introduction

Athene Annuity focuses on providing income in retirement by offering fixed index, guaranteed, and immediate annuities. We researched Athene Annuity’s financial stability, policy plan options, riders, website tools, and customer service reviews to help you compare the life insurance policy options of Athene Annuity with the competition. 

Athene Holdings purchased Liberty Life Insurance in 2011, acquiring its annuity business, and selling off (reinsuring) its life and health insurance business to Protective Life Insurance.

Company Overview

Athene Annuity was founded in 2009 in West Des Moines, Iowa, and is part of Athene Holdings Ltd. In 2016, Athene Holdings became a publicly traded company, and now has over $200 billion in total assets (as of March 2021). 

Athene Annuity offers fixed index, guaranteed, and immediate annuity products as a tax-deferred savings instrument for retirement, as well as providing guaranteed income options. It also offers group annuity plans for pension plans to give annuitants guaranteed income for life.

Annuities held in an IRA or 401(k) do not provide additional tax savings, as these retirement accounts already provide tax-deferred savings.


Athene Annuity is licensed in all 50 states, but actual availability varies by product and state.

Available Plans 

An annuity is a type of financial product designed to give investors an income stream during retirement. There are two phases for annuities: the accumulation phase and the annuitization phase.

In the accumulation phase, there is typically an initial lump-sum deposit, then additional contributions can be made to the annuity, and the money is invested on a tax-deferred basis. In the annuitization phase, the money is distributed to the account holder in monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual payments.

Athene Annuity offers three types of annuities: immediate, fixed-index, and guaranteed annuities.

Annuities are tax-deferred financial products, and early withdrawals taken before age 59 ½ may be charged with a 10% income tax penalty from the IRS.

Athene Agility

This annuity has a $10,000 minimum and maximum issue age of 83. Contracts come in 5-, 7-, and 10-year index periods, and investments are tied to the performance of your chosen index. Options include the S&P 500 index, AI Powered U.S. Equity Index, and more. There is also a fixed account offering a guaranteed minimum interest rate. There are no annual contract fees, though there may be withdrawal fees if you take out more than the 10% annual allowance.

Athene Ascent Pro Bonus

Very similar to the Athene Agility, this annuity has a $10,000 minimum and maximum issue age of 80. Contracts come in 7- and 10-year index periods and investments are tied to the performance of your chosen index. Options include the S&P 500 index, Nasdaq FC index, and more. There is also a fixed account offering a guaranteed minimum interest rate. There are no base contract fees, though there are withdrawal fees based on a withdrawal fee schedule for 11 years (at which point the fees go away).

The differentiator for this annuity is its option income rider which credits clients with a bonus for funding the contract, as well as annual deposits based on the rider interest rate. This rider comes with a 1% annual fee.

Athene Performance Elite

This annuity has a $10,000 minimum and maximum issue age of 83. Similar to the other fixed-index annuities, investments are tied to the performance of your chosen index, such as the S&P 500. There is also a fixed account offering a guaranteed minimum interest rate. There are no base contract fees, but there are withdrawal fees if you take out more than the 10% annual allowance for the first seven years of the contract. After seven years, clients who don’t withdraw for the year can withdraw up to 20% of the contract the next year.

The Athene Performance Elite also has a “Plus” option that provides a 6% bonus on the initial premium, which vest over an eight-year schedule. This option comes with a 0.95% annual fee (based on the total contract value).

Athene Protector

This annuity has a $10,000 minimum and maximum issue age of 85 (83 for seven-year contracts). Contracts come in 5- and 7-year index periods and investments are tied to the performance of your chosen index. Options include the S&P 500 index, Morningstar, and more. There is also a fixed account offering a guaranteed minimum interest rate. There are no annual contract fees, though there may be withdrawal fees if you take out more than the 10% annual allowance.

The Athene Protector offers a return of premium rider, waiving any fees to withdraw your premium payments into the contract. This option comes with a 0.40% annual fee (based on the total contract value).

Athene MaxRate

This multi-year guarantee annuity comes in 3-, 5-, and 7-year term lengths, and is a fixed-income vehicle for tax-deferred savings. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate payouts will be for the contract. This annuity has a maximum issue age of 85 (83 for seven-year terms) but also includes a death benefit. There are no base contract fees, but this contract comes with a very high 10% penalty for early withdrawal before the end of the term.

Athene Single Premium Immediate Annuity (SPIA)

This annuity is paid in a single lump-sum payment, that pays out lifetime income in monthly, quarterly, semiannual, or annual payments. The minimum investment is $10,000, and the maximum issue age is 85. 

Available Riders

A rider is a policy enhancement that allows clients to customize their coverage options. Athene Annuity offers access to several riders for its annuity products.

Death Benefit Rider

Available on some annuity contracts, this rider allows the beneficiary to receive the full accumulated value or minimum guaranteed contract value of the annuity, whichever is greater.

Terminal Illness or Qualified Care Waiver

This rider allows you to withdraw up to 100% of your annuity’s accumulated value if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 12 months or less, or if you are confined to a qualified care facility. Diagnosis must be after the first contract year.

Annuity payments are taxed as ordinary income and may incur a 10% tax penalty on withdrawals taken before age 59 ½.

Return of Premium Rider

This rider allows the annuitant to withdraw any premiums paid into an annuity contract, waiving any fees associated with early withdrawal. This option comes with a 0.40% annual fee (based on the total contract value), but options and fees may vary per annuity contract.

Customer Service: Email or Phone

Athene Annuity products are sold through independent insurance agents, brokers, or financial professionals, and cannot be purchased directly from Athene Annuity. These agents are the first line of support, but Athene also has a customer service center.

Athene Annuity offers support via phone, fax, mail, or email. Its customer service phone number is 888-ANNUITY (888-266-8489). They also have an FAQ section on their website to help educate consumers.

Athene Annuity customer service business hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m CT.

Customer Satisfaction: Very Few Complaints  

Athene Annuity received fewer complaints than other insurance companies, according to the NAIC. With a complaint score of 0.36, Athene Annuity scored better than the national average of 1.0  (the lower, the better). This score is an improvement on the 0.53 score from 2019.

J.D. Power also ranks annuity companies based on customer satisfaction. Athene Annuity ranked 14th out of 15 annuity companies in the U.S. in its 2020 Life Insurance Study. This is well below average compared to other annuity insurance companies in the U.S.

Financial Strength: A (Excellent)

Athene Annuity received an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best, affirming its financial strength. This rating means that Athene Annuity is in a good financial position to pay out their guaranteed annuity contracts, giving customers peace of mind when purchasing from them. 

Cancellation Policy: Free Look Period Only

Athene Annuity follows the U.S. required minimum “free-look” period for insurance policies, and annuities are considered insurance. This period (usually 10-30 days) varies by state but allows customers to purchase insurance and cancel for any reason for a full refund.

After the free look period, cancellation terms vary based on the product purchased, so we recommend talking with your independent agent about Athene’s cancellation policies before signing up for any annuity.

Price of Athene Annuity: Quotes May Vary

Athene Annuity prices for their annuities are not available online, and will vary by the type of annuity selected, the total amount invested, and the riders added to the contract. Quotes can be obtained directly from an independent agent.

How Athene Annuity Compares to Other Life Insurance

Athene Annuity does not sell life insurance, but rather focuses on selling annuities to help provide lifetime income for its clients. While annuities may help generate income in retirement, life insurance is designed to protect your assets if you pass away. If you are looking for life insurance coverage, you will want to find a life insurance company that offers term, whole, or universal life insurance plans. Here’s how Athene compares to a traditional life insurance company.

Athene Annuity vs. Transamerica Life Insurance

While Athene Annuity sells annuities to help clients build retirement income streams, Transamerica Life Insurance offers several types of life insurance to help customers protect their nest eggs. Each company has a strong financial rating from AM Best, giving clients confidence in the payout of claims or accumulated value. While both companies offer different financial products, both types of insurance can work together to build a safer retirement plan.

Here are a few difference between Athene Annuity and Transamerica Life Insurance:

  • Transamerica Life Insurance offers term, whole, and universal life policies in addition to annuities.
  • Athene Annuity offers immediate, fixed-index, and guaranteed annuities, while Transamerican only has a variable annuity offering.
  • Transamerica has local offices around the country (found through its Agent Locator tool), while Athene Annuity sells its products through independent agents.
  • Athene Annuity received far fewer complaints than average (according to the NAIC), and Transamerica receives more complaints than average.

Transamerica Life Insurance is one of our top picks for life insurance companies, with great policies for all walks of life. But if you are looking for a steady stream of income in retirement and tax-deferred savings, Athene Annuity helps clients save and invest through annuity insurance contracts.

Read our full Transamerica Life Insurance Insurance review.

  Athene Annuity Transamerica Life Insurance
Market Share 10th top seller of annuities in the U.S. Eight-largest in the U.S., 2.80%
Number of Plans  3 6
Online Quotes Available?  No Yes (term life only)
Service Method  Email, phone  Email, phone, in person
AM Best Rating  A (Excellent)  A (Excellent)
Complaints Index  0.16 (excellent)  1.31 (below average)
Final Verdict

Athene Annuity may be a good option for those looking for fixed-index or guaranteed income annuities offering low contract fees and various riders to customize your policy. That said, annuities are complex financial instruments and should be reviewed with a financial professional before investing in any annuity products.

If you are more interested in protecting your assets with traditional life insurance, you won’t find any options at Athene Annuity. Instead, we recommend you compare the best life insurance companies to find coverage that fits your needs and financial goals.

Methodology 

All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company’s offerings, customer service, financial stability, cost, and more. For each company, we compared the life insurance products offered, as well as available features, and reported customer experiences. Visit our life insurance review methodology for the full breakdown of what we evaluated for over two dozen companies.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. IRS. "Publication 575 (2020), Pension and Annuity Income" Accessed June 3, 2021.